Chicago Bulls (5-16) at Milwaukee Bucks (14-6)
7 p.m., WGN
The Bulls fortunes are changing in the injury report department. Both Kris Dunn and Bobby Portis have been practicing after missing extended time with MCL sprains. Lauri Markkanen is even closer to returning as he completed a full practice yesterday. He’s listed as day-to-day right now.
On the Bucks injury front, reserve center John Henson is out for the foreseeable future after wrist surgery.
The Last Time:
Like they do so often, the Bulls were competitive for much of this one before a bad quarter sank them. A third quarter where the Bucks outscored them 46-17 turned a 63-45 Bulls lead at halftime into an 11 point deficit at the end of the third quarter. The Bulls had no answer for the Bucks forwards as Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton had 23 points apiece. Eric Bledsoe was also phenomenal, scoring 25 points on 10-for-13 from the field.
1). Stop Giannis
To be fair, this is going to be nearly impossible.
The Greek Freak has scored over 20 points in all but one game this season (Oct. 26 against the Minnesota Timberwolves). He plays everywhere (BasketballReference.com lists his position as “shooting guard and power forward and point guard and small forward”), gets all the rebounds (13.0 per game this season), and if you double him he’s going to pass off to one of his teammates who will make you pay (his 5.9 assists per game is fourth highest in the NBA among players listed by ESPN.com as non guards).
The Bulls tried putting Jabari Parker on him. Disaster. The Bucks kept on forcing Robin Lopez to switch onto him in pick-and-rolls. Even bigger disaster. Chandler Hutchison on him, same sorry story.
Conceivably, the Bulls don’t have anybody who can stop Giannis. So, just do the little things to make it as difficult as possible for him to get easy buckets. Box out, because an offensive rebound for Giannis is usually a dunk. Take care of the ball because he’s tough in transition although he hasn’t been as dynamic as you’d think this season.
With Giannis, you can’t stop him but don’t let him singlehandedly beat you.
2). Play Arch
It’d be crazy to say that Ryan Arcidiacono is the Bulls best player, but it’s not crazy to say that he affects success in a positive manner more than any other player on the team. The Bulls are almost 10 points better offensively when he’s on the floor, and over 7.5 points stingier on defense when he is playing. Per 100 possessions, his plus-minus is 17.3 which is tops on the team by a significant margin.
He’s averaged 28.3 minutes per game this season and has earned every minute of it. It’s weird to say, but the Bulls need to continue to lean on Arch.
3). Stay Aggressive Zach
The play everybody is talking about from the Bulls loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday seems to suggest that Zach LaVine hasn’t been aggressive lately attacking the basket.
But that play is by no means representative of his style offensively. It just happened to occur at a point in the game where everything was magnified. Over the last two weeks he’s averaged 14.2 drives per game which is virtually identical to the 14.3 drives per game he’s averaged across the entirety of the season. He’s also getting to the free-throw line on 10.6 percent of his drives over the last two weeks which is more than his season average of 9.5 percent.
LaVine needs to do what he has done all season and continue to stay aggressive. His career high in points per 36 minutes this season speaks to the fact that his aggression has been an asset for him.
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