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Bucks vs. Bulls Preview: Milwaukee Begins Life After Bogut...Again

2011/2012 NBA Season

7-10 (3-8 away) 16-4 (8-1 home)
January 27, 2012
United Center
7:00 PM CT
Radio: 620 WTMJ TV: FSN Wisconsin
Probable starters:
Brandon Jennings
PG Derrick Rose
Shaun Livingston
SG Rip Hamilton
Carlos Delfino SF Ronnie Brewer
Luc Mbah a Moute PF Carlos Boozer
Drew Gooden
C Joakim Noah

(21st) 100.2 - OFFENSE - 108.0 (3rd)
(17th) 102.2 - DEFENSE - 96.6 (2nd)
(9th) 92.9 - PACE - 89.3 (26th)

On the Bulls: Blog-a-Bull / Bulls by the Horns / Bullsville

A day after learning that Andrew Bogut will be out indefinitely with a fractured ankle, the Bucks will be looking for their fourth straight road win in Chicago against the East-leading Bulls on Friday.

Podcastin'. Don Ellis from Bullsville was kind enough to have me on his podcast this morning, where we talked about the Bogut injury, Brandon Jennings' improved play, and what's been wrong with the Bucks' defense so far this season.

Gooden plenty. Like it or not, you can expect to see plenty of Drew Gooden until further notice. Gooden has averaged a superficially-solid 15.2 ppg and 8.6 rpg in 28 mpg as a starter, though it's no coincidence that the Bucks are also 0-5 in those games. Still, those numbers are a lot better than Gooden's stats off the bench: 14 mpg, 5.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg and just 32% shooting.

The only good news is that youngsters Jon Leuer and Larry Sanders also figure to see more of the court with Bogut out of the picture. After playing his way into the starting lineup over the season's first three weeks, Leuer has played just 15 minutes combined over the past four games, while Sanders has DNP'ed in five of the Bucks' nine games after Bogut returned from a family-related absence at the beginning of January.

Rose playing through pain. Reigning MVP Derrick Rose has already missed five of the Bulls' twenty games due to turf toe, though the Bulls' winning percentage without their superstar happens to be the exact same with him (12-3) as without him (4-1) . The Bulls didn't just squeak by with Rose in street clothes either, outscoring opponents by an average of 12.8 pts/game. If only the Bucks played as well without Bogut, eh?

While no one will be confusing a Rose-less squad for a contender anytime soon, the Bulls' ability to cope without their leading scorer (21.1 ppg) and passer (8.3 apg) says plenty about the job Tom Thibodeau has done since taking over as head coach two summers ago, and it also says more than a little about the supporting cast Chicago has assembled around Rose.

Bulls getting healthy. Luol Deng (torn ligament in wrist) is not expected back in the Bulls' lineup until Sunday, though big man Taj Gibson (ankle) will likely return to the Bulls' rotation. Chicago won't be lacking in motivation after losing their first home game of the season on Wednesday to the Pacers. And Derrick Rose apparently won't be lacking in motivation the next time he plays the Pacers, either.

The Bogut question. As for the Bucks, officially we only know that Bogut's injury will keep him on the shelf "indefinitely." A quick search for other athletes who've suffered ankle fractures suggests 6-10 weeks as a common range of recovery, but whether that will also apply here is anyone's guess. Hypothetically speaking, a two month recovery would have Bogut back at the end of March or beginning of April, leaving around 14 games left in the season (and 35 games missed). I'm not sure many fans are interested in seeing the Bucks plug away for an outside shot at the eight seed when there's a loaded draft upcoming in June, but something tells me the Bucks as currently constructed won't be bad enough to claim a top-five lottery pick even if Bogut is out for a couple months.

C.J. and B.J. While Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and Rip Hamilton are well-known quantities to most NBA fans, backup point C.J. Watson actually ranks just behind Rose in PER (20.3) and win shares/48 (.224) among rotation players. Interestingly, Watson has been brutal on two-pointers but lights-out on threes (39.8% shooting overall, 48.3% threes), which along with a good free throw rate and assist rate has him playing the most effective ball of his career.

Meanwhile, Brandon Jennings is also playing the best basketball of his career, putting up career-best numbers in scoring (20.2 ppg), fg% (.440), TS% (.538), PER (20.7) and win shares/48 (.155). Jennings eclipsed the 20-point mark for the fifth straight game in Houston on Wednesday, the longest streak of his career.