The Milwaukee Bucks are on some kind of roll, winners of 11 of their past 13 after toppling the Atlanta Hawks, 100-97, on Friday night. That win put them into a tie with Atlanta for the 5th spot in the Eastern Conference, and they have a chance to put more distance between themselves and the annoyingly clingy Chicago Bulls with a victory tonight.
Milwaukee is in the midst of its best stretch of basketball this year. While the win over Atlanta came without Paul Millsap for the Hawks, they managed to gut it out in a close game, a feat noticeably absent for this team in the early going.
Giannis was a fire-breather from tipoff, dominating a Hawks’ team with no clear answer for him defensively. He ended the night with 34 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, two steals and three blocks. Also, just one turnover for Giannis despite his endless parade into the lane. Khris Middleton had a depressingly cold night going 1-13 from the field for six points, but Malcolm Brogdon, Greg Monroe and Tony Snell combined for 51 to help carry the team.
Milwaukee’s had zero issues facing Chicago this year, and this will be the first time Khris Middleton will appear in a game against the Bulls. One can only hope the quietest player rivalry in the NBA rekindles itself at some point tonight.
MUST SEE: Khris Middleton delivers the filthy throw down on Jimmy Butler #OwnTheFuturehttps://t.co/JtY543YidP— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) October 7, 2015
Beasley is still out for Milwaukee, and John Henson’s status is still TBD for the game.
Somehow, the Bulls continue to keep themselves within spitting distance of the playoff conversation. Their dispiriting loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night, 117-107, feels like it should be some sort of immediate disqualification, but the Bucks lost two games to Philly this year so who am I to judge.
Since defeating Golden State back on March 2, Chicago is merely 3-9. Jimmy Butler continues to carry a team that shipped out two of its core contributors, Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott, for Cameron Payne, Anthony Morrow and Joffrey Lauvergne at the deadline. Chicago’s continued hording of questionable point guards remains a mystery. Related: Cameron Payne has gotten DNP-Coach’s Decisions the last two games and Michael Carter-Williams is playing just 16.9 minutes per game in their last ten.
Milwaukee’s dominated all its matchups with Chicago this year, as the three-point averse Bulls play directly into the Bucks’ hands. They’ve seemed unable to create any sort of offensive flow, and the Bucks’ length stifles what little athleticism they do have (not much). Strangely, their last game on December 31st featured the Bulls chucking 27 threes to Milwaukee’s 15, but Milwaukee dominated in the paint for a 30-point advantage. Playing from behind has a habit of making threes all the more attractive, but it’s not the best strategy for the fourth worst shooting team from deep in the league.
Look for Giannis Antetokounmpo to continue his string of dominant performances against Chicago, a pleasing development given his early career struggles against their rival to the south. This would be another key win for a Bucks’ team trying to cement their status in the playoffs, and shove Chicago further from the playoff discussion.
Dwayne Wade and Christiano Felicio are listed as out for today’s game.