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Bradley Beal hits game-winning three to lift Wizards over Bucks in 2K simulation

Bradley Beal hits game-winning three to lift Wizards over Bucks in 2K simulation

In perhaps the most exciting 2K simulation yet, the Wizards were able to get their third straight win while getting revenge on the Bucks with a thrilling 80-79 win. 

Bradley Beal was the hero in this one, drilling a game-winning three with just 2.1 seconds left on the clock.

The Bucks, both real and virtual, might want to rethink how they guard Beal. He's torched them in every possible setting this season. He finished with 28 points and shot 12/28 from the field, scoring 12 points in the fourth quarter alone. Stop me if you've heard this song before. 

A game of runs

This game was all over the place, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. 

The Bucks started the game with an 8-0 lead, which was then followed by an 11-2 run by Washington. Then in the second, Milwaukee went on 12-2 run, only to be answered with a 7-0 run by the Wizards thanks to Troy Brown Jr. 

The Wizards led by four points at the end of the first half, but then the Bucks used a 15-6 run in the third to build a lead going into the final frame. 

The fourth quarter featured four lead changes in just eight minutes of play, with the Bucks leading by five with 1:20 left in the game. That was, of course, until the Wizards went on an 11-5 run to end the game. 

A back-and-forth contest in the way you'd least expect, but at least it made for some entertaining hoops. 

Wizards overcome Giannis

In consecutive 2K simulation against the Wizards, Giannis Antetokounmpo has been an absolute monster. 

On Friday night, the reigning MVP went off for 38 points and 14 rebounds and shot 16-for-21 from the floor. Once again, he was impossible to keep out of the paint and the Wizards' front line, like every other team in the NBA, didn't have much of an answer for him. 

Still, the Wizards were able to overcome such a performance this time, mostly thanks to Eric Bledsoe.

The Bucks point guard had a terrible shooting night, going 2-12 from the field for a measly seven points. He even had a chance to redeem himself at the final buzzer, but his potential game-winning shot rolled right off the rim as the final buzzer sounded. 

Other parting thoughts

Before Beal hit the game-winner, Jerome Robinson had the highlight of the night with a no-look pass to Thomas Bryant for a dunk. Since the 2K version of Scott Brooks swapped Robinson for Brown in the starting lineup, both players have played really well in their new roles. 

Brown had 12 points in 14 minutes, while Robinson had 13 of his own to go along with a few impressive dunks. 

Something interesting happened during the second quarter. The 2K broadcast crew consisting of Kevin Harlan, Greg Anthony and Chris Webber mentioned how there has always been a rift between Beal and teammate John Wall. Beal denied the idea in-game, which goes right along with how he's addressed the situation in real life. Just an interesting moment in the first half.

Bryant continues to be an exceptional shot-blocker in a video-game setting. He had several impressive swats against the Celtics earlier in the week, and he did so again Friday in Milwaukee. 

Now, winners of three straight, the 2K Wizards will have their work cut out for them Saturday as they'll play host to LeBron James and the Lakers at virtual Capital One Arena. 

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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Wizards got their first glimpse of Giannis and the new-look Bucks, and it wasn't pretty

Wizards got their first glimpse of Giannis and the new-look Bucks, and it wasn't pretty

Giannis Antetokounmpo, since he has transformed from a lanky, jumper-less project to an NBA All-Star, has never been easy to stop. At 6-foot-11, he can run and dribble like a guard. And now with muscles, he can bull-rush defenders, always holding an athletic advantage in some combination of ways.

Dealing with Antetokounmpo alone was already a perilous task, and that was before the Milwaukee Bucks surrounded him with an array of lethal outside shooters. Now he has more space than ever, leaving hapless defenders with no ideal options.

Teammates can’t help off their own assignments, or else he will pass and create open shots. The league hasn't quite figured it out, and the Wizards can be added to the mix after Saturday's 131-115 loss to Milwaukee.

“They’ve got shotmakers and with him, he draws so much attention,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said. “But he can see over, when you double-team him he sees over it. When you play him 1-on-1, he battles you down and gets to the free throw line. It’s hard to stop.”

The Bucks poured in 17 threes on 39 shots, good for 43.6 percent. Eight Bucks players made at least one triple. Khris Middleton had four, while Brook Lopez and George Hill each made three.

Antetokounmpo didn't make any threes, yet he dropped 37 points to go along with 10 rebounds, two assists and a steal. He did it all in less than 33 minutes.

Where Antetokounmpo made most of his money was at the free throw line. Wizards defenders did their best to obstruct the rim as they ran step-for-step with him through the lane. Antetokounmpo initiated contact, and their best strategy was often to wrap him up to prevent easy buckets.

Antetokounmpo got to the line 17 times and never missed. He went a perfect 17-for-17, falling one free throw short of the record for a player against the Wizards/Bullets franchise. Only Rick Barry has gone perfect with more attempts. He went 18-for-18 in 1975.

Antetokounmpo’s brute strength and relentless path to the rim left the Wizards out of answers. Brooks tried to go small to combat the three-point shooting. He played center Thomas Bryant only five minutes in the second half, instead opting for Jeff Green at the five.

But the Bucks did a remarkable job of staying within coach Mike Budenholzer’s structure. They were patient zipping the ball back and forth across the perimeter, often making the extra pass to find an open three. Getting those open looks and making them consistently held the Wizards from building any real sense of momentum.

“Every time we had a run, they countered it with a big shot,” Brooks said. “They’re a good team. They have the best record for a reason.”

The Bucks boast the best record in the NBA at 38-18. They are only six wins away from matching their total from the entire 2017-18 season. They are on pace to improve from 44 wins in 2017-18 to 61 this year.

Budenholzer deserves a lot of credit for that leap, along with the addition of Lopez who has transformed into one of the best shooting big men in the NBA. Collectively, they have improved from one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the league to one of the best. They are third in three-pointers made per game this season.

That single area of the game seems to be the key to unlocking what now appears to be a juggernaut and legitimate title contender. They have opened the floor up for Antetokounmpo, one of the most uniquely gifted slashers the league has ever seen.

The Wizards beat this Bucks team in Washington just weeks ago on Jan. 11. But Milwaukee didn't have Antetokounmpo for that game.

With Antetokounmpo in store, the Bucks pounded the Wizards and led by as much as 32. Washington saw just how difficult it would be to face Milwaukee in the playoffs, if they can indeed crack the top eight by the end of the season. If they can play themselves into a postseason berth, they may very well have to face the Bucks in the first round.

Wizards guard Bradley Beal wondered if the pummeling the Bucks delivered on Saturday night was with the bigger picture in mind.

“The playoffs aren't here yet, but that was definitely a message that they were sending,” Beal said.

Whether it had extra intention or not, a message was sent. The Wizards now realize firsthand just how formidable the improved Bucks are this season. 

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Wizards lost to Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo by 16, but the game wasn't that close

Wizards lost to Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo by 16, but the game wasn't that close

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards lost to the Milwaukee Bucks 131-115 on Saturday night. Here are five observations from the game...

1. So, it turns out the Bucks with Giannis Antetokounmpo are a lot better than the Bucks without Antetokounmpo.

Last month, the Wizards beat Milwaukee at Capital One Arena when Antetokounmpo didn’t play due to a hip issue. This time, he did play and he was nothing short of dominant.

Antetokounmpo bullied his way to the rim for 37 points and 10 rebounds. The Wizards tried to foul him and make him earn his points at the line. All he did was knock down all 17 of his 17 free throw attempts.

Only one player has ever gone perfect from the line with more attempts against a Wizards or Bullets team. That was Rick Barry back in 1975, who went 18-for-18. The NBA record is 23-for-23, held by Dominique Wilkins.

The Bucks were missing Eric Bledsoe against the Wizards and it didn’t matter. They cruised to a win and led by as many as 32 points.

The Wizards have now lost three of their last four. They will have to see the Bucks again on Wednesday in Milwaukee.
 
2. The game plan the Wizards employed in years past against the Bucks with Antetokounmpo on the floor is basically impossible nowadays. They used to pack the paint and create a wall to the rim, overloading on Antetokounmpo’s ability to attack off the dribble​.​
 
But now, under Coach Mike Budenholzer and with a revamped supporting cast, that is a dangerous strategy. They went from being one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the NBA to one of the very best, currently ranking third in threes made per game. They can spread the floor with shooters and make teams pay for collapsing on the Greek Freak.

The Wizards found that out the hard way, as the Bucks dropped in 17 threes, including 10 in the first half alone. They shot 43.6 percent from the perimeter.  

3. While the Bucks hit their threes, the Wizards went ice cold from long range. Milwaukee has a host of physical perimeter defenders and they did an excellent job of taking away the Wizards’ bread-and-butter shots.

The step​-​back three wasn’t there for Bradley Beal. Trevor Ariza and Otto Porter Jr. were kept from the corners. Comfortable catch-and-shoot looks were limited for Tomas Satoransky and Chasson Randle.

The result was a hideous shooting line from three. The Wizards went just 10-for-33 (30.3%) from outside and that proved a bad combination with Milwaukee’s lethal three-point barrage.

4. With the way Satoransky’s on-court confidence has been growing in recent weeks, he was bound to catch someone with a vicious dunk. That person happened to be Brook Lopez.

Lopez tried to contest Satoransky at the rim in the opening minutes and must have underestimated the Wizards guard. The stars had already aligned. He got off his left leg, the bounciest one, and leveled Lopez with a jaw-dropping slam.

The crowd let out a collective ‘oh!’ and his teammates went wild. Sam Dekker ran onto the court. Thomas Bryant gave Satoransky a leaping chest bump, then kept jumping until he calmed down.

Satoransky was on the losing end, but context isn’t important on social media and the play immediately went viral.



5. Porter came back in this one after leaving the Wizards’ win on Wednesday with a left toe sprain. He also missed practice on Friday and was considered a gametime decision before giving it a go.

Porter played well with 18 points with seven rebounds on 7-for-14 shooting. He wasn’t limited from a minutes perspective, as he logged 34 and that was all before the white flag was waved.

What became more apparent in this game, though, is how thin the Wizards bench is when Porter is back in the starting lineup. It was the second straight game he’s started and this time head coach Scott Brooks went away from Jordan McRae (until late in the second half) and Ian Mahinmi.
 
With Troy Brown Jr. still firmly outside of the rotation, they were left with eight guys, the size of a playoff rotation. Sure, they had two days off before this game, but Porter off the bench at least gives them the perception of having more depth.

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