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Bulls vs. Bucks preview: no Giannis means there’s a chance tonight

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Another key game in the race for the 10th seed

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NBA: Chicago Bulls at New York Knicks Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off their big win against Miami to start the week, the Chicago Bulls suffered what felt like a back breaking defeat against the New York Knicks on Wednesday. Despite taking the lead in the second half, they just wasn’t able to keep pace with their opponents and faltered down the stretch. The Bulls were outscored 37-19 in the fourth quarter in route to a 113-94 defeat. Nikola Vucevic had another double double with 26 points and 18 rebounds but it wasn’t enough.

To make matters worse, the Wizards win over the Lakers on the same night means the Bulls are now back to being two games behind Washington for the 10th seed. It was a crushing loss for Chicago and one which had ramifications in the standings. With 10 games to go, the pressure is ramping up on the Bulls to get some wins. Otherwise the goal of making the play-in games may quickly start to fade away.

The Bulls are getting some schedule luck tonight though.

The Milwaukee Bucks aren’t at the top of the conference like they did last season but they still are in pretty good shape at 38-24. They seem locked into the third seed at this point and have gone 6-4 in their last 10 games. But in their most recent games it’s been a bit of rough sledding as they have lost two of their last three.

Tonight will be the second game of a back to back for the Bucks. They played against the Houston Rockets last night and lost 143-136. Despite getting 33 from Khris Middleton, 30 from Bryn Forbes, and 29 from Jrue Holiday, they still couldn’t get the victory. That was mostly due to Kevin Porter Jr. having a career night as he scored 50 points while Christian Wood scored 31 for Houston.

To make matters worse for Milwaukee, Giannis Antetokounmpo exited the game early due to an ankle sprain.

The Bucks still have a lot of solid players that Chicago has to deal with. Middleton is one of the better shooters in the league while Jrue Holiday can not only shut down opposing point guards but also score as well. Brook Lopez is still a threat from three-point land and there are veterans with playoff experience such as P.J. Tucker. If the Bulls want to come away with a win tonight, it’s going to take a real team performance on both ends of the court.

This is also a reunion game of sorts as Chicago will be playing against a familiar face in Bobby Portis.

Injury Report: Once again, both Troy Brown Jr. (left ankle sprain) and Zach LaVine (health and safety protocols) are out. Vucevic is a new addition to the report with tightness in his right adductor injury and is listed as probable.

As for Milwaukee, Antetokounmpo has been ruled out out of this due to the injury he suffered last night. Donte DiVincenzo is out due to soreness in his right toe while Axel Toupane will miss tonight’s game with a strain in his right oblique muscle.

Game Time: 8PM CT

Odds: Milwaukee is only a one-point favorite heading into this game. The over/under is set at 219.5 or 220 depending on where you look (all info via the Action Network).