The Bucks lead the league with a 40-6 record -- a franchise-best mark through 46 games. Milwaukee enters the week riding an eight-game winning streak and they’ve had three days of rest since playing their last game overseas over the weekend. Meanwhile, the Wizards are trying to battle their way out of the cellar in the East. Washington is currently on the outside looking in at the Eastern Conference playoff picture with a 15-30 overall record but the Wizards sit just four games back of the Brooklyn Nets for the No. 8 seed. Can the Wizards stop the Bucks streak at eight with a win on the road in Milwaukee on Tuesday?
Wizards get blown out vs. Hawks on emotional nightWashington was unable to keep its momentum going on Sunday with a 152-133 loss on the road against the Atlanta Hawks. Bradley Beal scored 40 points and handed out six assists but it wasn’t enough for the Wizards, who struggled to get stops on defense all night. Washington trailed by as many as 23 points in the third quarter after the Hawks opened the frame on a 22-5 run.
This has largely been an experimental season for the Wizards, who continue to await the return of All-Star point guard John Wall. While Bradley Beal has grown frustrated with the direction of the franchise, the Wizards have used the 2019-20 season as a means of auditioning players for bigger roles on what might be a playoff-caliber roster by next season. The Isaiah Thomas experiment has undoubtedly failed but Washington has gotten surprise contributions from a number of unlikely sources. Davis Bertans has become a versatile 3-point marksman off of the bench and rookie Rui Hachimura flashed his potential before getting hurt. Jordan McRae and Thomas Bryant have emerged as secondary scoring options while Ish Smith looks like the kind of dependable backup point guard that the team desperately missed when Wall was healthy.
Hachimura has been practicing in full with the team and is slated to return later this week. With the Wizards getting healthy, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them pick up some steam over the next few weeks. After their game against Milwaukee, Washington will play eight of its next nine contests against sub-.500 teams.
Bucks escape Paris with eighth straight winThe Bucks traveled to Paris, France last Friday for an Eastern Conference battle versus the Charlotte Hornets. Giannis Antetokounmpo didn’t disappoint in the NBA’s Paris debut, finishing with 30 points and 16 rebounds in the 116-103 win. The Bucks started slow and trailed by five points at halftime but rallied to tie the game and took control with a 38 to 25 fourth quarter. Eric Bledsoe finished with 20 points and five assists while George Hill added 16 points off of the bench in the win.
With the victory, Milwaukee became the first team in the NBA to reach 40 wins and they can tie the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors for the highest all-time win total before the All-Star Break. That would require the Bucks to win their next eight games, bringing their current winning streak to 16 games. The feat isn’t out of the realm of possibility for the Bucks, who have already riled off an 18-game win streak this season. Five of their next eight games are against sub-.500 teams but Milwaukee will have to beat the Denver Nuggets, Philadelphia 76ers, and Indiana Pacers to push their win total to 48 before the All-Star Break.