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Wizards-Bucks Game Preview: Drew Gooden Is Back In Town

Who’s playing?

The Washington Wizards (32-29) and the Milwaukee Bucks (12-49)

Where are they playing?

The BMO Harris Bradley Center. Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

When are they playing?

Saturday, March 8. 8:00 PM CT.

What’s at stake?

Washington is battling with Toronto, Chicago and Brooklyn for seeding in the Eastern Conference. Currently sitting in fifth, the Wizards trail Chicago by 1.5 games and Toronto by two. The middle of the East is essentially a race to avoid the seventh and eighth seeds, thus steering clear of Miami and Indiana in the first round.

Milwaukee is looking to extend its season-long streak of on-court altercations to three games after both Ersan Ilyasova and O.J. Mayo were involved in scuffles this week. The Bucks’ lead over the Philadelphia for the league’s worst record also continues to dwindle, as the Sixers’ current 15-game losing streak has narrowed the gap to just three games.

Who’s their best player?

This guy.

The first-time All-Star has parlayed an incredible February (20.6 points, 9.1 assists, 3.7 rebounds, 44.5% FG) into a strong start to March. Wall is averaging 18.0 points, 11.7 assists and 1.3 steals while shooting 51.2 percent in three games this month.

Who’s hot for the Bucks?

Khris Middleton went for 25 points in Friday’s game, but the nod here has to go to Jeff Adrien, who put up a season-high 20 points (5-8 FG, 10-11 FT) to go with 10 rebounds and three blocks. Ersan Ilyasova’s suspension was part of the reason Adrien played 30 minutes, though. Chances are he’ll be back in the 15-25 range against Washington.

What’s the key matchup?

Washington is a team Milwaukee matches up well with, at least on paper. With Nene out of the lineup, the Wizards lack a “true” center, and Brandon Knight’s defensive presence should provide a solid counter to Wall’s dribble-drive attack. Controlling the paint and limiting second-chance opportunities will be for Milwaukee, as the Wizards outscored Utah 56-36 in the paint and shot 54.3 percent from the field in their last game.

What’s the injury situation?

Larry Sanders (face) and Carlos Delfino (knee) are out for Milwaukee. Ekpe Udoh (ankle) is a game-time decision. Nene (knee) and Kevin Seraphin (knee) are out for Washington. Martell Webster is dealing with a sore back but will play after participating in shootaround.

Any suspensions?

You betcha. O.J. Mayo was suspended one game by the league for punching New Orleans’ Greg Stiemsma in the neck on Friday.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUySpAhJ7gE

What happened when they played earlier this season? 

Washington won 100-92 on Nov. 27, and Milwaukee prevailed 109-105 (OT) on Dec. 6.

When do they play again?

Milwaukee travels to the Verizon Center on April 12 for the teams’ final matchup of the season. 

Does Drew Gooden play for them?

He does! The Wizards signed the former Bucks legend to a 10-day deal on Feb. 26 and inked him to a second contract Saturday afternoon.

Any interesting promotions going on?

Of course. Saturday is “Faith and Family Night” at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Following the game, Christian rock band MercyMe will perform a special on-court concert.

Projected starters

Wizards

C – Marcin Gortat

PF – Trevor Booker

SF – Trevor Ariza

SG – Bradley Beal

PG – John Wall

Bucks

C – Zaza Pachulia

PF – Ersan Ilyasova

SF – Khris Middleton

SG – Nate Wolters

PG – Brandon Knight

Team rankings

Wizards

Scoring: 16th (100.7)

Scoring defense: 12th (99.8)

Rebounding: 18th (42.4)

Assists: 7th (23.3)

Bucks

Scoring: 29th (94.0)

Scoring defense: 20th (102.3)

Rebounding: 25th (41.3)

Assists: 18th (21.2)

Leaders

Points: Knight (17.0), Wall (19.9)

Assists: Knight (5.0), Wall (8.8)

Rebounds: Henson (7.7), Gortat (9.1)

Blocks: Henson (2.1), Gortat (1.5)

PER: Henson (17.8), Wall (20.5)

Nov. 27 highlights

Dec. 6 highlights

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