It'd be easy to write off the Bucks after a slow start, however, they've won six of their last nine and in that grouping have two wins over Miami and one over the Lakers. They're not just entering a hot streak against lousy competition. These Bucks can play a frustrating style of defense, particularly towards teams that want to score in the paint.
Milwaukee has also proven to be a tough out at home where they're 7-2 with a win over the Spurs in addition to the ones over Miami and LA mentioned above.
On the injury front, Luol Deng is a game time decision while Hamilton is out.
Derrick Rose time
The Milwaukee Bucks may jam the paint, but they have no shot blockers and Drew Gooden is perhaps the worst defensive helping PF in the NBA [yeah, even worse than Boozer]. Rose will need to simply be cognizant with his body control to avoid charges when slashing through the Bucks defense.
Jennings will again try to take away the middle of the paint and force Rose to his left, but last game, Rose went left and cut back inside to find the middle of the paint easily enough that it simply didn't matter.
Expect plenty more of the same tonight. As long as Rose stays aggressive, he'll have a big night.
Boozer needs to teach poor man's Boozer a lessen
I expect Boozer to have a big game. The question is can he stop poor-man's Boozer from having a big game as well? Drew Gooden's the type of player who can put up big scoring nights, particularly against poor defensive players. He scored 23 in the last matchup with 15 rebounds vs Boozer's 20/13.
Both players rebound well, feast off poor defenses, and can't defend an inanimate object. The Bulls need Carlos Boozer to show poor man's Boozer what's what tonight.
I expect 20+ points and 50%+ shooting from Carlos tonight, but he needs to make a more concerted effort from stopping Gooden from doing the same.
Let Jennings fire away from the periemter
Jennings has become a decent shooter, and he'll drill some threes, but while he's sitting their in isolation throwing out bombs the offense as a whole becomes very stagnant and the rest of the team becomes uninvolved. The Bucks swing more momentum when Jennings starts getting into the paint and setting up others and hitting layups.
Chicago should aim to keep him on the outside and avoid letting him get his teammates going. The Bucks team is set up similarly to the Bulls with Jennings having a Rose-like responsibility to carry their entire offense. If the Bulls can force him into taking too many shots and not moving the ball, then they should have little problem dispatching Milwaukee.
Jennings may have a Rose-like responsibility, but he doesn't have Rose-like talent to consistently pull it off and lead his team to a good record while taking it on.
Gimmie some of that hot sauce
The Bucks love to leave four guys sitting in the paint in order to stop teams from getting easy shots, and Kyle Korver will be key in forcing them to abandon this philosophy by either hitting shots or just threatening to hit shots.
If Kyle Korver is on, and the Bulls find him for some open threes, the Bucks defensive system will start to fall apart.
Go get the win
The Bulls barely beat New York after losing several games against quality competition. They need to put their foot down on these lesser teams. Hopefully Luol Deng will return to give them a lift, but they're capable of beating this Bucks team either way.
Filed under: Game Threads