We have 8 games across Monday’s NBA schedule, one of which is a potential Eastern Conference playoff preview. The Milwaukee Bucks, who became the first team in the league to clinch a playoff berth this season over the weekend, will head to the nation’s capital to take on the Wizards. Milwaukee clinched a playoff spot earlier than any team in NBA history on Saturday with their 119-98 win over the 76ers, which pushed their record to 48-8 on the season.
Washington will be playing the second half of a back-to-back after losing to the Bulls in Chicago on Sunday night. It’s been an up-and-down season for the Wizards, but they’re finally starting to get healthy. Despite being 15 games under .500, the Wiz are still within striking distance of the Nets and Magic for one of the final playoff spots in the East.
This will be the second of 4 regular-season meetings between the Bucks and Wizards. Milwaukee picked up a 151-131 win over Washington at home almost exactly a month ago. The Bucks are listed as 12.5-point favorites on Monday night in Washington at BetOnline. The game has an over/under of 242 points, which is one of the highest totals we’ve seen all year long.
Washington Wizards vs Milwaukee Bucks Game Notes
Brook Lopez, Kyle Korver to miss this game for Bucks
Wizards lost to Bulls Sunday, still only 3.5 games out of Eastern Conference playoffs
Bucks scored 151 points in a 20-point win over Wizards on January 28
Bucks at Wizards Betting Info
Over 242 (-110)
Under 242 (-110)
Beal’s Big Day
The Wizards have lost both of their games since the All-Star break at the hands of teams they should beat. Washington fell at home against the lowly Cavaliers in the first game after the break, and yesterday’s result in Chicago had to be discouraging. Giving up 126 points to the Bulls isn’t really something teams do very often.
Bradley Beal tried, though. The former All-Star put a career-high 53 points on the board on Sunday for the Wiz, but it wasn’t enough in the end. Davis Bertans contributed 22 points off the bench, but no other player scored more than 10. The defense, which has been abhorrent all season, was just that, as well.
Frankly, you can’t get away with playing that kind of defense against most teams in today’s NBA. That is especially true when you’re facing a Bucks team that owns the league’s second-best offensive rating. Milwaukee is averaging 111.7 points per 100 possessions, which trails only the Mavericks’ mark of 114.5. The Wizards are coughing up 112.9 points per 100 possessions, which is second-worst in the league. Only the Cavs have been more porous defensively.
The Wizards might ultimately have enough offensive firepower to sneak past Brooklyn or Orlando in the standings, but it’s safe to assume a potential first-round matchup against the Bucks wouldn’t last very long. Most teams with the Wizards’ record (20-35) aren’t in playoff contention. The fact that this Wizards team is in contention is clearly an indictment against the quality of the Eastern Conference as a whole.
The Bucks have the No. 2 offense in the NBA, and they also happen to rank No. 1 in defense. The Bucks are the only team in the league allowing fewer than 100 points per 100 possessions (99.7), and they suffocated the 76ers on Saturday night. Giannis Antetokounmpo was absurd again, finishing with 31 points, 17 rebounds and 8 assists in just 29 minutes of action. The game was out of hand pretty early, so Mike Budenholzer didn’t need the reigning MVP to even play a full allotment of minutes.
Milwaukee being without Brook Lopez tonight likely means his twin brother, Robin, will draw the start at center. Robin and Brook have vastly different skill sets despite both being 7-footers. Brook likes to float around the perimeter and take open threes that come as a result of the penetration of teammates like Antetokounmpo and Eric Bledsoe. Robin is more of a banger in the post, and his offensive repertoire isn’t quite as well-rounded.
Robin may be the starter in name tonight, but it wouldn’t be a major surprise if we saw Ersan Ilyasova and Marvin Williams get some playing time at center. Neither player has the size or shot-blocking presence of either of the Lopez twins, but both are more apt to replicate Brook’s offensive presence from beyond the 3-point arc.
Regardless of which players wing up logging most of the minutes at the 5, it’s hard to imagine the Bucks having an overly difficult time scoring points against this Wizards defense. The last time they met, Milwaukee scored 88 points in the first half alone and finished having connected on nearly 56 percent of their shots from the field. Oh, and the Bucks didn’t even have Antetokounmpo in that game. Bledsoe poured in 34 points with 10 assists and 6 rebounds, while Khris Middleton chipped in with a career-high 51 points along with 10 boards.
I would imagine the Greek Freak is licking his chops in anticipation of getting to feast on this defense for the first time all season. Needless to say, Washington isn’t at all equipped to deal with what Giannis brings to the table. I would imagine Scott Brooks will try to throw Isaac Bonga at Antetokounmpo to start, but I’m not sure where Brooks will turn once that fails miserably.
As you may have been able to tell, I like the Bucks quite a bit in this one. The Wizards have enough offensive firepower to potentially keep this game somewhat competitive, but it’s hard to imagine Milwaukee having too much trouble here. There’s just a massive talent discrepancy between the teams, and it certainly doesn’t help that the Wizards had to play last night. The Bucks should be the fresher of the two teams after having Sunday off.
Even on the road, bet on the Bucks to cover the sizable 12.5-point spread. Milwaukee has a point differential of plus-12.4 this season, so they have a decent shot at covering even if they put forth an average effort (by their lofty standards) on Monday night.
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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