3 key as Milwaukee Bucks finish homestand vs Washington Wizards

Nov 7, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 7, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Semi Ojeleye, Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal
WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 07 (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

Coming off the heels of one of the most lopsided losses in the Mike Budenholzer era, the Milwaukee Bucks finish up their three-game homestand against the Washington Wizards tonight.

This is the second of three games the Bucks and Wizards have against each other after the Wizards won the first matchup in early November. That loss put the Bucks at 4-6 at the time and there was much early-season panic about the Bucks’ performance amid early injury troubles.

Fast forward and it’s the beginning of February, the Bucks are over 0.500 and there’s still much panic about how the team is performing now that they are nearly fully healthy. They’ve been inconsistent of late, going 5-6 with a minus-2.0 net rating in those games. The good news is that the Wizards have lost five straight and will be without leading scorer Bradley Beal, the bad news is that they have a winning record without Beal this season.

How will the Milwaukee Bucks defend the Washington Wizards without Bradley Beal?

Speaking of the Wizards’ record in Beal’s previous nine missed games this season, they’re 6-3 in those games but only have a plus-2 point differential in those games, primarily due to a 21-point loss with their superstar guard.

Five of those six wins have come against the bottom 10 teams in the NBA and the other was against the New York Knicks, sitting with the 11th-worst record. So it’s a bit of a fraudulent 6-3 record without Beal.

As for this game, the Bucks obviously get a huge break that one of the best individual scorers will be out tonight. Still, the Wizards have decent depth and an offensive rating in the top half of the league.

Some good news for Bucks fans is that the Wizards are the third-worst 3-point shooting team this season at 32.4 percent and take the second-fewest 3s at around 31 per game. Their best shooter on any decent volume is Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at 37.5 percent on over five attempts per game. No one else taking more than two 3s per game is shooting over 34 percent.

So, for all the worrying about how the Bucks are giving up too many 3s and after being torched by the Nuggets for 23 made 3s, tonight should be a more normal shooting night against.

They get most of their offense at the rim (converting over 70 percent at the rim, second-best in the league per Cleaning the Glass (subscription required)) which generates a lot of free-throw attempts as well (third-highest free throw rate in the league).

It will be interesting to see how their offense fares at generating looks at the rim and free throw against a Bucks defense that doesn’t give up shots at the rim and doesn’t foul without their main offensive engine. Beal had 30 points and eight assists in November, so that’s a large chunk of offense that will need to be filled.