Jim Boylan is a perfect 1-0 as head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks, but his pristine record will be put to the test on Wednesday night when the Bucks take on the Chicago Bulls. Tom Thibodeau's club has been quite good since it squandered a 27-point lead to the Milwaukee, at home, on Nov. 26 and lost 93-92. The Bulls dropped to 6-7 overall that night, and since then Chicago has ripped off 13 wins in the last 19 games.
How have the Bulls managed to succeed? Their defense is still a top-5 unit in the NBA, players like Marco Belinelli and Taj Gibson have helped lift the offense far enough to keep the efficiency differential above water. Over the last five games, Gibson is nearly averaging a double-double (11.6 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 53.5% FG) in 24.4 minutes per contest, while Belinelli has converted on 44.4 percent of his threes and posted 9.8 PPG during that span.
Those aren't massive per-game numbers like Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis produce, but the important boosts from peripheral players has helped the team succeed in recent weeks - a phenomenon Bucks fans and Mike Dunleavy observers should understand well. Don't forget about Carlos Boozer as the Bulls aim to earn their fourth-straight win, because he has posted a double-double in five straight games.
As for Boylan and the Bucks, things didn't look much different on Tuesday night, but there are still some reasons to think tweaks to the rotations and relationships could help Milwaukee get back on track. Jake offered up some fresh and interesting quotes from the new head coach earlier today:
"I think if you can keep the lines of communication open with the players. They understand, they see, they know what you want. I've seen plenty coaches who are really hard on their players, and players love it. That's my intention is to coach these guys and get the most out of them. If that means being heavy sometimes, that's what that means."
One area where the Bucks need to improve is the second day of back-to-back set. Milwaukee is just 2-6 on the season under those circumstances, and it won't be easy to turn the tide against a Bulls team that is fairly solid (7-5) after a day of rest.
Brandon Jennings has been particularly bad on the tail end of a back-to-back. The plucky point guard has shot just 28.7 percent from the field (33-115 FGs) and 25.5 percent from three (12-47 3PTs) over eight games played without at least one day of rest. Is there something Boylan can do to alter that mystifying trend? I have absolutely no idea, but let's hope the Bucks put up a solid effort against their divisional rival.
Wednesday, Jan 9, 2013, 7:00 PM CST
Chicago Bulls Roster