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Game 33: Bulls/Bucks

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2009/2010 NBA Season


14-19 (3-12 road)
14-18 (10-7 home)
January 8th, 2010
Bradley Center
7:30 PM
Radio: 620 WTMJ TV: FSN Wisconsin
Probable starters:
Derrick Rose
PG Brandon Jennings
Kirk Hinrich
SG Michael Redd
Luol Deng
SF Luc Mbah a Moute
Taj Gibson
PF Ersan Ilyasova
Joakim Noah
C Andrew Bogut

(29th) 99.2 - OFFENSE - 102.6 (25th)
(11th) 105.0 - DEFENSE - 103.2 (5th)
(17th) 92.4 - PACE - 93.2 (12th)


BlogaBull / Bulls by the Horns

News/Notes after the jump (updated)

This marks the third time the teams have met, with the home team winning down-to-the-wire affairs in the first two: Chicago squeaking out an 83-81 affair at the United Center before the Bucks returned the favor in a 99-97 win at the Bradley Center. Perhaps not surprising for a pair of teams separated by just a half game in the Eastern playoff race, the Bucks clinging to the 8th spot and the Bulls two spots behind (the Knicks are 9th due to having a 15-20 record).

You can't accuse either team of consistency, though. Using scoring differentials, Chicago has the third-worst expected winning percentage in the East (.312 vs. actual .429) by virtue of their propensity for losing big. For all their high profile struggles, they closed 2009 in encouraging fashion, winning four straight (Hornets, Pacers, @Pistons, Magic) before coming back down to earth with a home blowout loss to OKC and a road loss in Charlotte.

Struggling Shooting Guards
Personnel-wise, the most obvious difference between the teams now and then is at shooting guard. Kirk Hinrich (who missed the last meeting) is now starting for the Bulls ahead of John Salmons, while Mike Redd missed the first two meetings with his knee injury. Of course, just because they're now starting doesn't mean they're playing well. Redd continues to have three poor games for every one good game (if the last 10 games are any indication, he's due to lay an egg tonight), while Hinrich hasn't made shots this year (36.7%), though he at least plays better defense than Redd.

Rose vs. Jennings
Hobbled by an ankle injury, Rose was a non-factor in the teams' first meeting but has been on a roll lately, leading the Bulls in scoring over the last five games (24.6 ppg). He also dominated Jennings in the third quarter of the teams' last meeting in Milwaukee before Charlie Bell held him in check for most of the fourth. Bell has seen only limited minutes of late, cracking double digits just once in the past five games (16 vs. OKC), and he hasn't helped his case by shooting just 2/15 from the field in that span. Should Jennings again run into trouble with Rose I would hope Skiles gives Bell a chance to make a difference, and if Hinrich is playing SG then there's a fair bit of flexibility to have Jennings stay on the court even if he's not guarding Rose.

JS: The Bogut Factor
Whenever I hear people talking about the Bucks, my favorite litmus test of how closely they follow the team is who they mention as the Bucks' most important/valuable/indispensable player. For much of the season the national media has understandably focused on Brandon Jennings, but most of us who watch every game point to Andrew Bogut as the guy whose consistency is most important to the team's success. Tom Enlund spoke to Bogut after practice yesterday, reminding him that the team is 10-1 when the Aussie scores 17+.

“We need for me to score and for me to rebound for us to have a chance to win games,” he said. “That’s pretty obvious even without that stat.

“We still need to find other guys to step up sometimes. Obviously, I’m going to have bad games every now and then. Mike (Redd) is starting to come back and get his legs back but yes, I need to have productive games for us to have a chance to win, especially against good teams.”

Bogut had no problems producing the last time he faced the Bulls, bullying Joakim Noah and Brad Miller for 22/15, and he was also more than solid in the first game, dropping 16/13. You'd expect as much against Miller, whose lack of mobility has become increasingly difficult to hide and is no longer offset by his shooting ability (41.2% from the field, 21.7% from three). I've heard the term "rotting corpse" thrown about, and from the games I've seen it's not too inaccurate.

Noah has no such problem. Plenty of people around the league seem to irrationally hate the guy--OK, the fact that he didn't want the Bucks to draft him might make it understandable for Bucks fans--but you can't argue with his huge surge in productivity this year. Noah's 10.6 ppg/12.2 rpg averages speak for themselves, though he still turns the ball over at an obscene rate (15.2% of possessions) and can be pushed around at times on the block by bigger guys like Bogut.