Bucks vs Bulls Preview- Putting a bow on the regular season (Game 4)
The 57-22 Milwaukee Bucks take on the 38-41 Chicago Bulls Wednesday night at home at the Fiserv Forum. The game against the Bulls, followed by the game on Friday vs the Memphis Grizzlies, will conclude the regular season home games for our #1 seed Milwaukee Bucks. Then, onto the playoffs. Those should start around April 15th.
If the Bucks win tonight they will clinch the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Don’t expect Milwaukee to want to rest a bunch of guys. The NBA “play-in” tournament is from April 11-14th. That is enough built in rest right there.
Much of the talk centered around the Bulls before the trading deadline was whether or not they should “blow up” the team and trade LaVine or DeRozan. The Bulls did not make a single move. The Bucks made a couple of moves. Those moves continue to pay off.
The schedule makers have been wonderful to Milwaukee all season. Tonight continues to be in-line with overall, fair scheduling. The Bucks are on a “back-to-back”. So is Chicago. The Bulls lost last night to the Atlanta Hawks at home 123-105.
Like Frodo in “Lord of the Rings” trying to climb that mountain, so goes the Bucks. The magic #1 is now 1. Win and you are the number one seed. Put on your climbing shoes. It is time to go win a championship!
Keys for the Bucks
Keep rebounding the ball
As we discuss a lot in these preview pieces, the Bucks continue to team rebound well. They are number one in the NBA in team rebounding. (48.8 rebounds a game). They are the top defensive rebounding team in the NBA. They are 10th in offensive boards.
Why does that matter? Because by rebounding the basketball you can control the tempo of the game. For Milwaukee, if they out rebound their opponent by 6 or 7 rebounds, they generate additional opportunities.
Don’t Turn the Ball Over
In their loss yesterday to Atlanta, Chicago only turned the ball over 8 times. But Atlanta only turned the ball over eight times as well. That seemed to negate any advantage either team had.
The Bucks need to do the same. Play aggressive: just don’t turn the ball over more than Chicago.
The Bucks are 23rd in the NBA in team turnovers.
Score over 118 points
When the Bucks score over 118, they usually win. On the season the Bucks are scoring just under 118 points a game- 117.3. Over their past ten games they have really improved that number.
Getting 70 points from their big three (Giannis, Khris and Jrue) and then a combination of 48 from Brook, Bobby, Grayson, and Jevon usually does it.
The Bucks should be able to aim for that 118 point number against Memphis as well.
The Opponent- The Bulls
The party might be over for Chicago. For a team that really needs to develop players, there does not seem to be much player development going on. (Save Coby White.)
Chicago has some big free agents coming up they have to make some choices on. Nikola Vucevic is a free agent. So is newly acquired Patrick Beverly. In 2024 DeMar DeRozan becomes an unrestricted free agent. Somehow, someway, Chicago needs to find some scoring from either those three or from some new guys.
Chicago is 18th in the NBA in scoring (113.5 points per game) and just does not take many threes (28.5 per game) As a point of comparison, the Bucks routinely take over 40 a game. Chicago really needs to be able to score more.
The Bulls are a much better team with Lonzo Ball, who is currently injured. DeMar DeRozan is having a good season, averaging 25/4/5. He hasn’t played particularly well lately. The Bulls are 6-4 over their last ten games. Over that span he has lost his team “scoring crown” to Zach Lavine.
Zach Lavine has struggled at times but is now leading the team in scoring. (25.1 points per game). The Bulls gave him a huge contract and have huge expectations for him.
Things to tell your buddies while you are watching the game
- The Bulls are 134-128 vs the Bucks all-time. Even with all of those great Bulls teams of the 90’s, it is crazy to think the Bucks could take the all-time franchise lead with a win tonight, a 3-1 season next year and then a 4-0 season the following year.
- The Bulls have beaten the Bucks twice this season. (Game one was 118-113 Chicago, Game two was 119-113 Chicago, and Game three was 112-100 Milwaukee.)
- According to some metrics I was able to check out, most pundits still have the Bucks at a 20%+ chance to win a championship.
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