Happy New Year’s, everyone! I’m sure most of us are happy to bid 2020 adieu, and the Milwaukee Bucks get a chance to work on their new year’s resolution tonight with a matchup against the neighboring Chicago Bulls.
Where We’re At
It has literally been an up-and-down beginning to the season for the Bucks, coming into tonight’s game with a 2-3 record and having split a back-to-back against the Miami Heat. Milwaukee broke the NBA record for made threes in a game a few days ago, but despite a decent shooting night on Wednesday they collapsed in the fourth quarter and allowed Miami to come back and win comfortably. We’re still in the early goings of the campaign, and with the truncated offseason many consider the first ten games to be an extended preseason, an opportunity for teams to get their act together and figure out just what they are, and the Bucks are no exception. In terms of figuring out, head coach Mike Budenholzer has some rotation things to figure out, as Thanasis Antetokounmpo has earned the nod over fourth-year forward D.J. Wilson off the bench, a development that none of us saw coming. Milwaukee is likely hoping for better results from the officials as time goes on.
Brook Lopez fell over just to mock Bam selling the foul call pic.twitter.com/maqN7l164l— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 31, 2020
Milwaukee will continue to miss Torrey Craig, who underwent surgery for a nasal fracture and will be out for at least another two weeks.
Like the Bucks, the Bulls are still figuring themselves out as well, starting the season with three straight losses followed by a pair of wins over the Wizards. Zach LaVine is still their leading scorer, though sophomore guard Coby White and rookie forward Patrick Williams have performed well so far in their new season. In general, the Bulls play at a fast pace with a below-average rating on both sides of the ball, so it ought to be a relatively favorable matchup for Milwaukee. There just isn’t a lot to go off of with this Chicago squad; they’re not projected to make the playoffs and historically haven’t been a significant challenge for the Bud-era Bucks. Chicago will be missing four of their players, including second-leading scorer Markkanen, due to the cryptic “NBA protocols” which one might assume is related to COVID-19 testing.
Lauri Markkanen, Tomas Satoransky, Chandler Hutchison and Ryan Arcidiacono won't be on plane or travel with #Bulls to Milwaukee and won't play tomorrow, Billy Donovan says.— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) January 1, 2021
They're in NBA protocols.
Player To Watch: Wendell Carter Jr.
The third-year center out of Duke was widely regarded as a candidate to make his mark in the league, but up until this point he’s struggled to do so. He’s only played half of the possible games over the first two seasons of his career, so his opportunity to acclimate to the NBA game and establish himself in Chicago. He’s worth watching tonight because he’s the type of center who Milwaukee wants to take threes (career percentage of 0.194), and him playing into their hand would be a point for proponents of the zone drop defense. He’s still a top-10 pick finding his groove, though, so if the Bucks can’t get right, we could see more of this:
Wendell Carter Jr. found his rhythm last night.— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) December 28, 2020
22 pts | 8-9 FG | 13 rebs | 4 asts pic.twitter.com/rueRQ2obg6
Game 6: 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)