Despite a triumphant 3-1 Western Conference road trip, the Bucks are heading into this game without All Star Khris Middleton, who will likely not return before December due to a leg contusion. Mike Budenholzer will have a tough choice to make regarding who will replace Khris in the starting lineup; between Sterling Brown, Donte DiVincenzo, Pat Connaughton, Ersan Ilyasova, and Kyle Korver (who should be back in action), the Bucks’ depth will be tested as they return from a somewhat extended break.
Player to Watch: Robin Lopez
For all the wrong reasons, RoLo may not again appear in this section of a Brew Hoop preview anytime soon, so a matchup against his former team will have to suffice. Bucks fans have been losing patience with Sideshow Bob, perhaps partly (and unfairly) comparing him to his twin brother. Brook Lopez was a revelation last season (even if he’s not setting the world on fire thus far this year), and Robin has simply...struggled. In 14.5 minutes (over 10 games), his individual offensive rating is 85, his individual defensive rating is 106, and his WS/48 rate is a staggering –0.001. Small sample size still, but staying in the rotation may prove difficult if Lopez can’t offer more than the occasional hook shot and gritty defense, and a matchup against his old squad may serve as a spark for him to up his game.
Chicago is a franchise in rebuilding mode. They have a number of young players mixed with a few choice veterans, and they’re looking at developing long-term cornerstones for when they can finally break out of the lower tier of the Eastern Conference. Coby White is a fun young scorer, Tomas Satoransky is effective when he’s aggressive, and Wendell Carter Jr. might be the team’s best emerging player. Lauri Markkanen has underwhelmed (but might be injured), and while the team took down the New York Knicks the other day, they still have a lot to figure out.
On the health side of things, the Bulls will be without Cristiano Felicio (broken wrist) and Otto Porter Jr. (foot contusion), and Carter Jr. (thumb) and LaVine (ankle) may be limited as well.
Player to Watch: Zach LaVine
With the Bucks’ rotation needing tinkering with and the Chicago offense needing...more than just tinkering, it will (once again) fall to Zach LaVine to lead the Bulls’ charge. LaVine made news last month with his vocal defense of the midrange game, forcing the basketball community to once again question whether or not this “new” version of the sport is good or not good. (Spoiler: it’s good, midrange shots are fine in the right context, just not how Zach takes them.) Of course, LaVine is currently averaging 20.0 points on 17.1 shots and 0.431/0.361/0.762 splits, but to his credit he has cut his midrange shot frequency (from 16 feet to the 3pt line) down to 4.3% from last year’s 12.7%. Will the Bucks’ defense goad LaVine into taking more poor jumpers? Hopefully!
Game 11: Against Chicago, the Bucks will...
This poll is closed
Win big (by 10 or more points)
Win close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose big (by 10 or more points)