The 12-4 Milwaukee Bucks take on the 7-10 Chicago Bulls Wednesday night in downtown Milwaukee at the Fiserv forum where they are 9-1. The Bucks continue to get a little more healthy while the Bulls have struggled recently going 2-6 in their last eight games.
The Bulls are well coached by Billy Donovan and have good players. They were the talk of the NBA to start last season as they went an impressive 37-21 before the All-Star break. They faded after that going 8-16 to finish the season as the 6th seed where they lost to the Bucks in the playoffs.
The Bulls have struggled as of late, losing their last three of four games. They have also had some drama with their star Zach Lavine and their coach. Lavine was benched to end a game and was none too happy about that.
Keys for the Bucks
Exploit the Bulls poor three point defense and defensive play of Nikola Vucevic
The talk on Chicago Sports radio is all about 32 yr-old Nikola Vucevic, the Bulls starting center, playing out of position. While he is currently third in the NBA in rebounding (11.8 per game) he really has struggled to defend, especially the pick n roll.
The Bucks need to get Lopez and Portis going against him. He has one of the worst defensive ratings and really struggles with his back towards the basket. It’s pick n roll time!
The Bulls gave up a lot to get Vucevic (Wendall Carter, Otto Porter Jr and two first round picks) trading with the Orlando Magic. It was a move by the Bulls to try to make it back to the playoffs. It worked but his poor defense or at least the continued perception of him being a bad defender hurts.
Keep rebounding the ball
As we discuss a lot in these preview pieces, the Bucks lead the NBA in rebounding volume. (49.5 total boards per game) The second closest team in the Memphis Grizzlies at 48.2 Giannis is 5th overall in individual rebounding (11.6). But where are the other rebounds coming from? It has been a true team effort. And it helps even more when they are at home. As a team they average over 51 boards per game. They also have a 9-1 at the Fiserv so far this year. (Portis- 10.6 a game, Lopez 5.9, and even Holiday 5.3 rebounds a game)
The Opponent- The Bulls
The Bulls are a much better team with Lozno Ball who is currently injured. But again, they still have some great players. DeMar DeRozan is having a great season, averaging 25/4/4. Zach Lavine has struggled at times but is still second on the team in scoring. 22-yr old Ayo Dosunmu has given the team some good energy, all while picking up the slack for an injured Ball.
Alex Caruso (25 mins a game) and Goran Dragic (18 mins a game) have given the Bulls plenty of lift off the bench. Their tough, gritty play has helped them keep games close when DeRozan sits.
Yet the 32 yr old Vucevic is the piece that seems to steer the ship. He’s a good three point shooter (37.7% this year) and rebounds well. He also has wild stretches where he turns the ball over and again, struggles against the pick n roll.
Things to tell your buddies while you are watching the game
- The Chicago Bulls were 639-231 all-time with Michael Jordan. That amounts to a 69% winning percentage.
- The Milwaukee Bucks are 370-299 all-time with Giannis Antetokounmpo. That amounts to a 55% winning percentage.
- Scottie Pippen was 603-253 all-time in games he played with the Bulls. He played for 17 seasons across his career. Pippen also played for the Rockets and for the Trailblazers. Jordan also played for the Washington Wizards. And the Chicago White Sox.
- Coach Mike Budenholzer has really figured out the Bulls. He has a career winning percentage (including when he was the head coach of Atlanta) of 23-10. That is a slightly better winning percentage than Michael Jordan had as a player with the Bulls against the NBA.
- Happy Thanksgiving!
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