3 things to watch for in Milwaukee Bucks vs rebuilding Washington Wizards

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - FEBRUARY 01 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - FEBRUARY 01 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Washington Wizards: Daniel Gafford
Nov 7, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

Can the Milwaukee Bucks build off a strong defensive performance in their last game?

Yeah, the Chicago Bulls played the night before but the Milwaukee Bucks waxed ’em and led by as many as 35 points. For all of their recent struggles, they’re still the 10th-best offense and the Bucks held them under 100 points for only the second time in their last 26. Fun fact, the Bulls have been held under 100 points 13 times this season. The Bucks have done it two them twice!

Anyway, enough about the Bulls’ futility against good teams, tonight is another chance for the Bucks to start to build some good defensive habits as they ratchet things up for the playoffs.

In their last 15 games, so including their dominant performance last game, the Bucks are 19th in defensive rating at 114.9. That’s just not the standard that they’ve set for themselves under head coach Mike Budenholzer. It’s been very odd to see them rolling on offense but leak oil on defense.

What better way to build those habits than against a bad team whose two leading scorers over the last five games (Porzingis, Kentavius Caldwell-Pope) are shooting under 30 percent in those games?

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez started their first game together since the opening night of the season. In their limited time together (106 non-garbage time possessions), they haven’t really missed a beat. The Bucks’ defensive rating with those two on the floor is 101.9, per Cleaning the Glass (subscription required). That is over four points ahead of the league-best defense in the Boston Celtics.

The Bucks can defend when they flip the switch, we just haven’t seen it enough. Well, with 10 games left, it’s time to start flipping that switch more consistently. We saw the start against the Bulls and now they have an even weaker opponent in front of them.