The Washington Wizards are continuing their hot start to the NBA season with a 101-94 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, 101-94 on Sunday.
Nevertheless, the reigning NBA champs nearly pulled off an upset, coming to within 4 points with 2 minutes to go. Both teams seemed tired and out of focus during the last 5 minutes and several turnovers on both sides left the score at 98-94 for the Wizards with 30 seconds to go. Beal dribbled the clock down into what seemed to be another hero-iso possession. Avdija then came to help as Beal got doubled, at which point the Bucks defense inexplicably doubled Deni. Deni, didn’t lose his cool and dished off an immediate pass to Dinwiddie for the dagger 3:
אסיסטם ענק של דני לשלשה של דינווידי pic.twitter.com/kuV4yy3r8V— Washington Wizards (@washwizardsil) November 8, 2021
This whole sequence was a testimony for how the Wizards this year are different than their counterparts in previous years and also to how useful of a piece Deni Avdija has been this season under the tutelage of Head Coach Wes Unseld, Jr.
The first half of the game was rather even with the Bucks holding a slight edge at the end of the half with a 52-49 lead.
However, the Wizards entered the 3rd quarter energized to find a lackluster Bucks squad that time after time lost 50-50 balls, missed shots (0-for-8 from deep in that quarter), and turned the ball over.
The Wizards’ defense was good in this quarter but hardly stellar. Avdija had some impressive defensive possessions, notably causing Yannis to travel and turn the ball over at one time:
שומרים, סיפור אהבה מאת דני אבדיה pic.twitter.com/hjY0BvWfFq— Washington Wizards (@washwizardsil) November 8, 2021
Montrezl Harrell was aggressive on offense, asking for the ball often and even taking a beautiful iso jumper from the left corner to hit only net:
Daniel Gafford/Harrell and the backcourt of Bradley Beal/Spencer Dinwiddie also paired for several neat lobs, like this one:
Bucks Head Coach Mike Budenholzer didn’t do his team any favors either with his awkward substitution pattern in the 3rd quarter resting all his stars at once, allowing the Wizards lead grow to double digits, 82-71 at the end of 36 minutes.
The 33-19 3rd quarter blitz was enough to hand over the game to the Wizards as the Bucks never really recovered from this run. Yannis did score 29 points and grab a million (18) rebounds, but was rather inefficient, forcing jumpers from downtown with plenty of time on the clock (going 0-for-4 from deep) and shooting 5-for-12 from the line.
The Bucks minus Grayson Allen shot 25 percent from downtown (7-for-28) with Allen the only one to have an above average clip at 3-for-8. The Wizards on the other hand shot over 40 percent (11-for-27) from downtown and that ultimately tipped the scale along with 24 assists versus the Bucks 17.
What kept the game so close was the fact that Washington turned the ball over way too many times (19 vs the Bucks’ 12), with the main culprit being Beal again (with 6 TOs), some of his turnovers at the final couple minutes as he again and again forced Brooks’ style heroball.
Avdija had the biggest +/- on the team with +10 in 27 minutes (might be season high for him), and 0 turnovers to go only 2 PFs, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists (including the game clinching one). He only took 3 shots, making one three, but his contributions were elsewhere.
Kyle Kuzma also had a good game, with 15 points, (3-for-8 from deep), 10 rebounds, and 5 assists.
Raul Neto had a sort of forgettable game, scoring 4 points on 8 shots, and forcing a couple of drives while teammates stood open on the perimeter.
Finally, Beal probably had his best shooting night of the season with 30 points on 14-for-22 shooting, not few of them mid-rangers (2-from-3 for three). He also had 8 assists, a number of them lobs that helped shift the momentum in the 3rd quarter.
Overall, the Wizards are now 7-3 on the season, while the Bucks are 4-6. Who would have imagined that in the preseason?