Even without Giannis Antetokounmpo on the court, the Milwaukee Bucks have been able to carry their water to two straight victories over the lowly Hawks and somewhat less lowly Orlando Magic. They close out 2019 on the road against the Chicago Bulls.
And so ends the best calendar year of Bucks basketball I, and probably many other folks, have probably experienced. We got an Eastern Conference Finals trip, an MVP, and complete decimation in the regular season all year long. Can’t quibble with that, and what a way to send out 2019 than with a chance to utterly embarrass your division and state-line rival, the Chicago Bulls. Milwaukee was able to pull away late against the Orlando Magic for a 111-100 win where they almost led wire-to-wire. Ersan Ilyasova put up a ridiculous 17/14 stat line in Giannis’ absence for that one.
The big news for Milwaukee: Eric Bledsoe is listed as available on the injury report. Giannis is listed as available so expect him to suit up.
Player to Watch: Ersan Ilyasova
How will this walking double-double machine adapt to a secondary role, that’s clearly the question on everyone’s mind tonight. Does his ludicrous production in Giannis’ stead invalidate everything the reigning MVP has done to this point!? Start up the controversy machine!! But seriously, those were some impressive, turn-the-clock-back performances from one of the Bucks’ elder statesmen. He deserves our respect as he slinks back into the shadows of the bench.
Sitting just outside the Eastern Conference Playoff race, the Chicago Bulls have been somewhat respectable this season, blow-ups against Jim Boylen aside. They’ve hung their hat on their defense thus far, ranking in the top-ten defensively. It’s a far cry from the Jabari frontline days of yesteryear. However, they’re playing like a brick squad on offense, in the bottom-five offensive rating teams in the league. They did manage to beat the Clippers, albeit on a Kawhi rest day, a few weeks back and are coming off a waxing of the Hawks, 116-81 where Markkanen had 25. LaVine is their leading scorer this season at 23.5/game.
Chicago has a medical list longer than Markkanen’s wingspan. Ryan Arcidiacono, Wendell Carter Jr., Zach LaVine and Tomas Satoransky are all probable. Meanwhile, Chandler Hutchinson and Lauri Markkanen are both questionable while Otto Porter Jr. is still out. Look out for Daniel Gafford, who alley-ooped his way all over this Bucks team.
Player to Watch: Tomas Satoransky
If Bledsoe does wind up playing tonight, he’ll likely get a chance to tackle the Bulls jumbo-sized point guard. If nothing else, I’ll be watching Satoransky to see how Bledsoe fares defensively if given the chance to guard him. If Bledsoe is matched up elsewhere, just consider that my Bulls player to watch.
Game 35: 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)