The Chicago Bulls head into Milwaukee after a statement win against the Heat. You'd figure this game is a lock for Chicago, but the Bulls are a mere 13-13 on the road and just lost to the Raptors on Wednesday.
How can this team be so different on the road than at home? It primarily comes down to defense. The Bulls have been better on both ends of the floor at home, but their offensive output is fairly close on both ends, while the Bulls give up an additional 10 points per game on the road.
Can Chicago stop the Bucks? In theory, this shouldn't be all that difficult.
Keys to the game
Play with energy
The Bulls get into the most trouble when they come out flat on the road. Typically they have a lack of energy, especially defensively. Players fail to make rotations, and they give up a ton of points in the paint. If the Bulls play with a high energy level, they should win this one fairly easily.
In particularly, Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer need to keep their energy levels high on the defensive end of the court. Boozer is always a challenge to get to rotate, but Rose can play great defense when the effort is there and fairly subpar defense at times on the road.
The key here is to avoid the let down after the emotional win against Miami.
Don't be afraid to use Thomas in this one
I was a big fan of Omer last game because we needed his athleticism and length to protect the paint. I think going forward, Omer should play the majority of the minutes as backup center as well.
However, in this game we can use Thomas's toughness inside and post defense. Kurt is probably the best post defender on the team, and if Bogut gets it rolling we should try throwing him in the game. I'd probably only use Thomas if Bogut has it going on, but I'd have that adjustment in my back pocket if we need it.
Get back on defense
The Bulls frequently have struggled when they play a one way up and down team against opponents. The Bulls will let the other team get out on the break and leak out, but will play a slow down game on their end of the court. The Bulls have better offensive and defensive execution than the Bucks in the half court, so they can slow down the game and make sure the Bucks don't get anything easy.
The roll players need to knock down shots
The Bucks will likely do what everyone else does, crowd the paint and build a wall of defenders in front of Rose. This means lots of open jumpers for our role players, we'll need them to knock them down.
I expect the Bulls to win, but I'm never overly confident with road games due to their road record this season. We've lost some clunkers, so anything can happen.