The Milwaukee Bucks have clinched a spot in the postseason; it is February 24. A day after the earliest playoff clinch in NBA history (16-team format), the Bucks head to Washington to take on the Wizards, whose loss to Chicago Sunday night secured Milwaukee’s 4th straight year in the playoffs.
This is the second of four meetings between these teams this season, as Milwaukee handled the Wizards 151-131 in January without Giannis Antetokounmpo. Giannis is expected to play in this one, and it’s a safe assumption that plenty of points will be scored. Both teams have a top 5 ranking in pace, and both average over 115 points per game. However, the Bucks still have the best defense in the league while Washington ranks 29th in defensive efficiency.
Washington got 53 points from Bradley Beal on Sunday night, but it wasn’t enough to get past the Bulls in a 126-117 loss. Aside from Beal and sharpshooting big man Davis Bertans, the Wizards have had trouble getting consistent performances from their role players. Milwaukee has come out of the gates red-hot to start the second half of the season, as they’ve won both of their games by at least 20 points, most recently a 119-98 throttling of the 76ers on Saturday night.
MIL: Bledsoe, Matthews, Middleton, G. Antetokounmpo, R. Lopez
WAS: Smith, Beal, Bonga, Hachimura, Mahinmi
Injuries: Both Kyle Korver and Brook Lopez will miss the game with back soreness for Milwaukee, while Washington will be without Thomas Bryant. Davis Bertans is questionable for the Wizards.
Time and TV: 6:00 PM CT on FS Wisconsin
The spread: MIL -13.5
Prediction: This will likely be a shootout, and as long as the Bucks shoot reasonably well from 3 this game should be no problem for them. I do think it ends up being a relatively close game. Bucks 134, Wizards 124