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Gibson, Hinrich out with illness for game against Bucks tonight

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

[Thanks again to Swoove for today's preview. Game preview spots are available, so sign up if you're interested. -yfbb]

Exit Brandon Knight, Kenyon Martin, and Kendall Marshall; enter Michael Carter-Williams [who's also out tonight -yfbb], Tyler Ennis, and Miles Plumlee.

The dust from the crazy trade deadline has just about settled, and NBA life has returned to normal . . . more or less. The Milwaukee Bucks are in town and have some new weapons in their arsenal. With a 31-24 record, the Bucks are seven and a half games and eight games ahead of the Miami Heat and the Brooklyn Nets respectively, and control the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Bucks were interesting enough at the start the season what with rookies Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo. I figured they would be the third best team in the Central Division by default as did many others, I am sure. However, I did not expect them to be this good so soon out of the gate. Milwaukee has emerged as one of the best shooting teams in the league in terms of percentages, and have had impressive wins over top tier teams like Toronto and Portland.

The Bucks have a well of talent, newfound cap space ("factoring in a cap hold for their first round pick, the Bucks project to have over $15 million in cap space this coming summer, giving them plenty of ammunition to play with in July") and could have at least $30 million after the TV deal kicks in next year. Basketball's future in Milwaukee is looking stellar.

. . .

Open curtain; queue second half of season.

I am unsure whether or not the Macbeth curse is applicable to sports as well, but for my sake I hope it's not. Tom Thibodeau has a full roster to work with for the first time since forever ago. The Bulls dropped their first game out of the break to the Detroit Pistons, but had a good bounce-back win against the Phoenix Suns. Joakim Noah has appeared more active and closer to the Joakim Noah we have come to see over the years. Tony Snell has shown flashes of marksman shooting and rocketing confidence. Mike Dunleavy Jr. is healthy. Derrick Rose is kicking off the last bits of rust.

Not much can be said about this team that hasn't been said already. When healthy, the Bulls are a title contender. The defense needs improvement. Minutes need to be structured; yadda, yadda, yadda. It is a shame there is still so many questions surrounding how good this team is versus how good they could be, but at this point all that can be done now is to find any and all of the positives and build upon them heading into April. The ride is going to be bumpy as all hell, let's all hope it will be worth something in the end.

Tip-Off is 7:00PM CST; CSN-Chicago and ESPN 1000AM