Right now, with about a week and a half left in the regular season, it’s nothing more than speculation. However, as fans of two teams who seem to be on a collision course for the first round of the playoffs, we thought we’d have some fun with it.
Peter’s Take: Milwaukee’s Advantage -Defense. Coach Kidd is a huge proponent of playing tough on both sides of the court. Now that the Bucks have one of their top defenders (Khris Middleton) back and one of their weakest defenders (Jabari Parker) out, this team has exploded. The Bucks were 14-4 in March, with no consecutive loses and their biggest win came on the road against the first place Celtics.
Richard’s Response: The Wizards’ have had a tough time recently with teams that hustle on defense. All you have to do is look at their most recent game against the Utah Jazz. The Wizards scored just 88 points, shooting just over 40% from the field. They have also lost three straight although some of that may be attributed to coming down off the high of winning their division for the first time since the 1978-1979 season.
Peter’s Take: Milwaukee’s Weakness – Inexperience. The Bucks have a very young team. Not only do they have very little experience in the playoffs. They are just finally figuring out how to play together. Their three stars who are currently healthy have played together for two years now but most of their other contributors are either a rookie or were added in free agency or a trade this season.
Richard’s Response: The Wizards are going to the playoffs for the third time in four seasons. They have won their previous opening round matchups. They have a solid set of players that have been together they last several years. Experience definitely goes to the Wizards in this area.
Richard’s Take-Wizards’ Advantage-Home Court: The Wizards are 29-10 so far at home this year. At home they average 110.6 points per game at home and allow 105.3 points per game. The Wiz have a definite home court advantage this season and I expect that to carry over the playoffs.
Peter’s Response: The Bucks were 7-2 on the road throughout the month of March. That’s misleading though because altogether they were just 18-19 away from home. That means that at one point they were 11-17 on the road. The playoffs present a whole new challenge for this young team.
Richard’s take- Wizards’ Advantage- Offense: The Wiz can hurt you in may different ways on offense. They have one of the best back-courts in the league in John Wall and Bradley Beal. Markieff Morris can knock down mid-range jumpers with ease. Otto Porter Jr. is the third best three point shooter in the league knocking down 44% of his three point attempts. The Polish Hammer Marcin Gortat has the potential to be an unstoppable force when he gets into the groove of the game, though he has to be fed early and often.
Peter’s Response: The Bucks are built around long, athletic defenders. When they are playing their game it’s hard to break through their wall. However, once the wall breaks, it’s usually a free for all. It’s no secret that the Bucks struggle to defend the perimeter, so that will definitely be a factor to watch for in this one.
Richard’s take- Wizards’ Advantage- Bench: The bench for the Wiz has been a pivotal part of their success this season. Ian Mahinmi spent the first part of the season rehabbing from injury but has come into his own late in the season. Kelly Oubre Jr. may be a superstar in the making. He is still a very young player but he is a force to be reckoned with and when he is playing defense he can guard almost any player on the floor. Jason Smith has become a clutch mid-range to three point shooter as well. The impact of mid-season additions Bojan Bogdanovic and Brandon Jennings have proved to be great additions. As you can see this team is 10 players deep and there aren’t many teams in the league that can say that.
Peter’s Response: When you consider that Greg Monroe comes off the bench, it’s easy to see that depth isn’t a real issue for Milwaukee either. Having Jabari Parker out lessens that a bit. However, it has made room for guys like Spencer Hawes and Michael Beasley to really shine. They might not be as well rounded as the Wizards bench but they don’t plan to back down.
Peter’s Final Summary: It’s clear that until the Bucks can prove otherwise, the Wizards would be the true favorites here. The Bucks have a ton of raw talent and quite a few potential superstars but usually you have to go through the Fire a time or two before you are proven. Washington will definitely bring the heat in this possible matchup and Milwaukee better bring there “A” game if they even hope to have a chance.
Richard’s Final Summary: This series comes down to the play of John Wall and Bradley Beal. If they have a good series then the Wizards should win easily. If they have a mediocre series then this could swing either way. Giannis Antetokounmpo is a star in the making, he is the catalyst that is driving the Bucks. With the other weapons that the Bucks have like Khris Middleton who knocks down over 41% of his three point attempts, the Wizards need to have to be focused and not overlook this team. If this is the first round playoff matchup we see, my prediction is the Wizards win the series 4-1.