(Editor’s note: the original title of this post has been updated, and we apologize for the error.)
Milwaukee is fresh off another typically disappointing defensive performance in their loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night. Giannis Antetokounmpo injured his right ankle and missed the second half of that game. He’s listed as doubtful for tonight’s matchup with the Chicago Bulls, battering their way down the league’s standings.
Milwaukee’s polished off its cupcake 4-game schedule with a 3-1 record, but has dropped the last two against real competition, the awakening Cavaliers and treading water Clippers. Wednesday’s game featured an incredibly inept defensive effort, which made their prolific scoring output (including 37 points off turnovers) irrelevant. Since that defensive blip up the standings during Prunty’s first few games, they’ve come back to Earth while opponent’s 3-point shooting has returned to normalcy. Chicago is a team that’s 7th in 3-point attempts and despite their 27th ranking in offensive rating, they carved up Milwaukee’s defense in their first two matchups with 115 points each time. While the Bucks held them to 96 in their win, this video is burned into my retinas.
I wonder, do the Bucks' players realize how ridiculous they look? pic.twitter.com/IQIOESaH50— Dean Maniatt (@AllTheBucks) March 22, 2018
Hope and pray Bucks fans. Hope and pray.
Player to Watch: Jabari Parker
With Giannis likely out, Jabari should get the start to try and make hay against his hometown team. If Lauri Markkanen can’t go tonight, Jabari shouldn’t have any trouble facing verticality at the rim. Bobby Portis will likely throw a few punches (figuratively please) but tonight could be the first chance we have this season of seeing Jabari as a focal point of the offense for the majority of the game. If he’s able to score efficiently, it should be a welcome outcome for Bucks fans grasping for any shred of positivity right now.
Since their last game, gone is oft-Bucks killer Nikola Mirotic, headed south to New Orleans. His departure was a clear steer into the tanking skid, although in typical Bulls fashion, they can’t even do that well. They have only lost six of their last ten, and those wins have crucially come against other members of the submarining squad, Memphis (twice), Atlanta and Dallas. Take solace in that fans, the Bulls ineptitude at being inept is worthy of ridicule. Meanwhile, Chicago also lost their last game to the Nuggets by 33. Cristiano Felicio was their leading scorer with 16 points. Yikes. With no Kris Dunn or Zach LaVine, Paul Zipser and Antonio Blakeney listed as doubtful and Markkanen questionable, they hardly have enough players to yield an NBA team. Please don’t disappoint Bucks.
Player to Watch: Cameron Payne
Seemingly in witness protection since his arrival from Oklahoma City, I haven’t heard heads or tails of Payne while in Chicago. No cool pregame handshake routines like he had with Russell Westbrook, to my mind this guy’s been an enigma after getting some buzz out of college for being a big guard. If nothing else, he provides a bit of mystery to tonight’s viewing experience.