Losing three in a row isn’t exactly my recipe for happy-go-lucky feelings around this Milwaukee Bucks team. Thankfully, they’re preparing for hopefully just the right opponent to give us all some much-needed cheer after that Christmas Day debacle.
Where We’re At
Dispiriting as the loss was against the Boston Celtics, I am curious if the performance will stick in this team’s mind with the trade deadline rapidly approaching in a month and a half or so. Milwaukee has outperformed their point differential by a bit so far, and even without Khris Middleton around, they have looked like a team somewhat showing their age against friskier teams. That being said, if you told me this team had this record at this point in the season, I’d still consider that a massive victory. Whenever these losses come about, I always try and remember just how low the lows of something like Game Five against Brooklyn felt. In comparison, even the mountain of coal the Jaylen’s delivered on Sunday feels practically weightless.
As for Chicago, their season highlight to this point is probably the fact they’ve knocked off the Bucks once already and beaten the Celtics twice. Overall though, they’re well off track of where I’m sure they hoped to be, sitting at 14-19 despite some decent talent across the roster. After being buyers two years ago, I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to pivot and sell off parts in the New Year. Still, their propensity for the midrange plays well against what the Bucks are happy to give up. Last time out against the Bulls, they took advantage of Milwaukee overhelping and got up plenty of triples. Hitting 18-42, they pulled out the win. Discipline, which hasn’t been Milwaukee’s strong suit of late, will be pivotal.
Khris Middleton will again be out for Milwaukee.
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer just spoke with reporters after today's practice.— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) December 27, 2022
He told us Khris Middleton will not be available for tomorrow night's game in Chicago, but he did participate in parts of practice today and, as you can see in the video, he worked after practice too. https://t.co/97qFIo4PZJ
Lonzo Ball is out, while Alex Caruso and Javonte Green are questionable. Derrick Jones Jr. is doubtful.
Player to Watch
Giannis Antetokounmpo has routinely ripped apart the Chicago Bulls, and I’m sure their lackluster interior will be a welcome respite from what the Celtics were able to throw his way. But I’m more curious to see if any of the midrange shooting touch he showed against Boston will carry over. In the New Year, the Bucks need to see that shot revert closer to its levels last year if they hope to make another postseason run.
Game 34: Against Chicago, the Bucks will...
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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)