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Bulls vs. Bucks game preview and thread: likely nothing like the playoffs
both squads are fairly entrenched in their playoff/play-in seed
The NBA may have solved some form of tanking with the play-in tournament (and also allowed middling executives to rephrase their goals - hello AK!), but not all of it. In the final week or two of the season, there are teams out of even play-in standings that look to get higher in the Tankathon, combined with the playoff teams jockeying for, or locking in early, their preferred seed.
I started this post thinking that tonight’s opponent, the Milwaukee Bucks, were still trying. They are extremely close to clinching the #1 seed in the East but not there yet. But word just came that Giannis is out.
Meanwhile, the Bulls are not officially locked in their seed either, but it’s very close to being guaranteed in that #10 spot. Close enough to where you get galaxy-brain takes like this from Will Gottlieb where he implores the Bulls to “do whatever they can” to keep losing until hitting the play-in tournament, since the lottery odds are done by regular season record not play-in results. (as in, if the Bulls miss the playoffs but win the first play-in matchup, they wouldn’t leapfrog that first team they beat in the reverse standings).
But what, exactly, are the Bulls supposed to do? Just say “they should sit DeMar DeRozan even though they’re not locked in to their seeding yet” if that’s what you think they should do, yeesh.
Organizations tank, not players. But as I heard from Dan Feldman at Dunc’d On recently, the players also kinda know what are critical games and what aren’t. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bulls kinda roll over tonight, even with Giannis out for the Bucks (their other starters are playing, and they’re pretty good). It’s the second night of a back-to-back, and the players they can do the math that they’re pretty locked in to this tenth seed after losing last night to the Hawks. That was a game they had every motivation to win, and they blew it.
(for the record, the Hawks and Raptors both play tonight as well: Hawks hosting the dunzo Wizards, and the Raptors are in Boston though the Celtics may be holding guys out)
The Bulls may not be holding out their stars for a modest increase in lottery balls, but Alex Caruso is listed as out for tonight’s game as he keeps managing this foot injury.
For the Bucks, beyond Giannis both Grayson Allen and Pat Connaughton are out as well.
Game Time: 6:30pm Central, ESPN
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