[Thanks to Swoove for today's game preview -yfbb]
With only six games remaining and the team sporting a 38-38 record, the Bulls travel to Milwaukee to take on the already-eliminated-from-playoff-contention Bucks and keep their own championship dreams-turned playoff hopes alive.
This game is interesting for a couple of reasons. Remember the Bucks' Cinderella season a year ago that saw them take two playoff wins against these Bulls, and what a magnificent job Jason Kidd accomplished coaching that young team? The Bucks were supposed to be much a improved, more mature, and more cohesive unit that would be able to take a significant stand in the ever shifting powers of the Eastern Conference. Clearly those thoughts were mistaken. But the Bucks are still young, and they are still toying around with their configuration as in recent weeks Jason Kidd has handed control of their offense over to 21 year old Giannis Antetokounmpo. With Jabari Parker at age 20 and Khris Middleton at age 24 this Bucks squad have some time to find themselves, but optimistic futures become the uncertain present rather quicklyâtime in the Bucks' case is relative.
On the other side, the Bulls were once a perennial Eastern Conference contender. A team that many believed to be the only true rival of any LeBron James squad. For those unfamiliar with their story, vice-president John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman believed the Bulls were in need of a coaching change and, backed with the support of owner Jerry Reinsdorf, fired Tom Thibodeau after a 50-32 record that was good for the third seed in the East and replaced him with former Iowa State University coach Fred Hoiberg. The roster was kept intact sans the draft pick of Bobby Portis. The disappointment of this season goes without saying as time and time again the Bulls have dropped many winnable games, last night's lost against the Detroit Pistons being the latest example. The Pistons came came into the United Center having lost to the Mavericks the previous night and playing their starters heavy minutes, and the Bulls did not capitalize on their fatigue. That has been the season's theme for the Chicago Bulls: missed opportunities. Mathematically the Bulls can still qualify for a playoff berth as they sit two games behind the eighth-seeded Indiana Pacers, but the odds are not in their favor.
The Bulls and the Bucks both are teams who planned on having big futures coming into this season, yet both teams have fallen far short of those expectations. Looking through a post-season lens, the Milwaukee Bucks are not playing for anything more than fulfilling their remaining scheduled competition and possibly thwarting some division rival's playoff chances along the way. Taj Gibson is listed as doubtful as he returned to the team from caring for a personal matter in New York and continues to deal with fractured ribs. Derrick Rose will not play as he continues to nurse his elbow injury.
Game: Chicago Bulls @ Milwaukee Bucks
Tip-Off: 6:00pm CT
Radio: WMVP ESPN 1000AM / WRTO 1200AM