Chicago Bulls (7-20) at Milwaukee Bucks (15-11)
7 p.m., CDT; WGN
Chicago: Lauri Markkanen (back) listed as questionable.
Milwaukee: Mirza Teletovic (lungs) out. Tony Snell (knee) out. Matthew Dellavedova (knee) questionable. Jason Terry (calf/old?) questionable.
I find Milwaukee to be one of the most fascinating teams in the league. Any given night they can be one of the best league pass teams in the NBA. On paper they look like they should be one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference (they technically are). I am not really sure if they should be better or if fan expectations are a bit lofty? People seem to think that every loss is Jason Kidd’s fault.
It’s not much of a secret anymore that Milwaukee likes to play extremely aggressive in the opponents passing lanes. When they manage to create a bunch of turnovers Kidd looks like a genius. However, when their scheme resembles more of a gimmick they give up wide open threes. Case in point: opponents are shooting a league best three point percentage against them, 40.2%. I suspect this is partially why Bucks reddit is often eager to start lighting torches and grabbing pitchforks.
I am not much a stats guy. I attend mass regularly at the Chapel of Wilbon, every Sunday we pray for the sinners who embrace the serpent that is advanced analytics. I’m joking (mostly). I probably spend more time trolling TMZ Sports than I do basketball-reference, but even I can see that Milwaukee is really bad in a number of important categories: 30th in field goals attempted, 29th in 3 pointers attempted AND made, 30th in rebounding, and 24th in assists. Their opponents stats against ratings (I think that’s how you say it) are arguably even worse. Maybe Milwaukee fans have a point. I mean, when has the /reddit community ever been wrong about anything?
That being said, I think that Milwaukee is in great shape. Giannis is a revelation. He is 23 years old and is dominating the league without so much as sniffing the three point line. Milwaukee is currently sitting comfortably at fourth in the east which would pit them against the Indiana Oladipo’s if the playoffs were to start tomorrow. Looking at the east though, I can’t imagine that anyone would want to play this Milwaukee team in the playoffs. I think they are due for a big moment, its been a while!
Thon Maker age jokes may be a bit dated (sorry, I couldn’t resist) at this point, but what can I say. I’m a sucker for a good conspiracy and this is one of my favorites. Maker has not exactly been lighting up the league, his shooting numbers are bad even for the (alleged) 20 year old, 39% from the field and 27% from three. I hope this changes. I don’t want questions about carbon dating or what his age might be in American years to just fade away. Take this great Plaschke/McGlocklin call for instance. "HE’S NOT EVEN LOOSE! Well, he’s young…" Is he though? Anyways, at least one person has faith in Maker as a potential future MVP candidate. Someone once told me, ‘Time is a flat circle.’
Things to watch for:
Will Chicago continue to suck at sucking? Here we are in the midst of a four game winning streak. What to make of it?
I am all for grabbing as many ping pong balls a possible, but that’s just it. There are no guarantees even if Chicago is fortunate enough to grab the number one overall pick. The idea that you can make a case for any number of guys at the top can either be interpreted as: class depth (the optimist) or that there is no clear cut number one guy (the pessimist). I am not sure where I fall in that regard. I have a painstakingly tough time talking myself into Luka Dončić. My reasoning? Basically, I am a schmuck who can’t bare the thought of falling in love with another foreign prodigy (looking at you Niko). Questions concerning DeAndre Ayton’s motor are enough to send a chill down my spine, despite him looking like a freaking Greek God. Marvin Bagley III is so left handed he makes Shabazz Muhammad look ambidextrous. How about Collin Sexton, point guard from basketball powerhouse, Alabama. This guy played a game 3 on 5. Most of Hoiberg’s lineups make it look Chicago is playing 3 on 5. I think he’ll fit right in! Roll tide.
This recent fit of winning lands Chicago’s record against the spread at 14-11-2. Who knows how long the streak will continue? Time to start pounding money lines, right? *Checking pulse*. Nope. Not yet. Anyways, Chicago is laying +8.5 and I actually like them to cover here and potentially keep the streak alive.