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Bucks v. Bulls Preview: One More Windy City Whooping

Season series sweep within grasp as Bucks begin road trip

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Chicago Bulls David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks score a ton, this is true, but a 140 point night is a notable outlier even for them. They reached that marker for the fifth time this season in an offense-only win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Can they keep up the production against a Chicago Bulls team that is somehow on an honest-to-goodness winning streak?

Bucks Update

Two games after the All-Star break and two more wins added to a mountain of them for the Bucks. Picking up victories at home is always crucial and may prove decisive depending on how the Bucks fare on a five-game road trip that starts tonight in Chicago. Their last outing saw a distinct absence of any defensive play as the Wolves and Bucks combined to put 268 points on the board. That kind of game is equal parts exhilarating and stressful, though far more of the former when it ends with a positive outcome. With a little more effort the Bucks should have few problems having another offensive surge while keeping Chicago’s league-worst offense (104.1 ORtg) on the ground.

The injury situation is fluid heading into the evening with Giannis as doubtful due to right knee soreness, George Hill listed as out due to his adductor strain, and Donte DiVincenzo also out due to heel bursitis. We’ll assume Giannis is in until we get confirmation otherwise from the team.

UPDATE: Eric Nehm at The Athletic confirmed Giannis’s doubtful status and it sure sounds like he won’t be playing, plus George Hill is confirmed out.

Player to Watch: Khris Middleton

The main question occupying my mind is whether Khris Middleton can turn a corner and begin stringing together nights more like the one against Minnesota instead of the relative dud versus Boston. I’m not looking for routine 20+ scoring performances (not that I’d be mad if that was the case) but a move towards slightly higher efficiency as the season winds down would be appreciated. A possible assignment against Wayne Selden should give Midds plenty of options to keep the output flowing. Speaking of the Bulls...

Bulls Update

Lose, lose, and lose some more, or so you’d think. While Chicago’s approach to this season has been to tank their butts off while “cleaning up the culture” via hard-charging coach Jim Boylen, they’ve recently bucked the trend and won three straight (against BOS, ORL, and MEM). Unlike other teams looking to better their draft position by giving minutes to the bench for evaluation and growth opportunities, the Bulls have been heavily reliant on their starters to carry the load. The Bulls’ bench is 24th in scoring league-wide at 33.1 points (Bucks sit 27th at 31.0) and also sit at 24th when it comes to nightly minutes with only 17.1 going to substitutes. It can be construed as either an statement of the talent (or lack thereof) on the bench, the stock the organization puts in the starters, or both.

Otto Porter Jr. is listed as questionable with a strained left leg he picked up against the Celtics on Saturday and Wendell Carter Jr., Denzel Valentine, and Chandler Hutchinson are all outs.

Player to Watch: Zach LaVine

How will LaVine follow-up a career-high 42 points against the Celtics last Saturday? In the three times the Bucks and Bulls have met this season Lavine has gone on to average 22.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 6.0 assists, a -4.7 +/-, all while shooting .404/.412/.929. The first two meetings found Lavine with fewer supporting options short of Jabari Parker, so, assuming Porter Jr. is out how LaVine, Kris Dunn, and Lauri Markannen (who is also coming off a personal-best 35 point scoring outburst) shoulder the scoring will determine how the Bulls fare.


Game 60: Against the Bulls the Bucks will...

This poll is closed

  • 37%
    Win big (by 10 or more points)
    (129 votes)
  • 42%
    Win close (by 9 or fewer points)
    (145 votes)
  • 15%
    Lose close (by 9 or fewer points)
    (52 votes)
  • 4%
    Lose big (by 10 or more points)
    (17 votes)
343 votes total Vote Now