The Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks face off in their last game before all-star weekend, their third meeting this season. The Bulls won the first two meetings fairly easily and should be heavy favorites yet again. Milwaukee has no inside presence to contain them, a bunch of selfish isolation scorers, and is even more dependent on Brandon Jennings than the Bulls are on Derrick Rose.
Win the PG matchup, win the game
As a Bulls fan, it feels awfully good to make the above statement, because Derrick Rose doesn't lose PG matchups. However, if the Bucks don't get something absurd out of Brandon Jennings they have almost no chance. The Bucks simply don't have the horses on either end of the court to compete with the Bulls unless Chicago lays an egg.
Derrick Rose should dominate this Bucks team for as much as he wants to push himself. They have no shot blockers, and he's had little trouble beating Jennings [or any other single defender] off the dribble. I don't know if Rose will have a monster game as he's generally looked to get teammates involved as much as possible when the Bulls don't need his scoring, and it's unlikely they'll need his scoring in this game.
However, if they need it, Derrick will throw up a monster game on Milwaukee.
Drew Gooden is likely out, good or bad for Milwaukee?
Is Ersan Ilysova really worse than Drew Gooden? He's statistically outplayed him in the past three games during Gooden's absence, but I'm not going to pretend I've been breaking down Bucks game film each night before going to bed to know how well he's actually playing.
I did find it interesting that Ilysova only scored nine of his 58 points over that stretch from beyond the arc which surprised me given that he's a guy whom I've generally viewed as hurting you from beyond the arc. Perhaps he's expanded his game.
That said, as bad as I believe Gooden is and as well as Ilysova's put up stats, I think this injury kills Milwaukee. Ilysova doesn't have the body to deal with Boozer down low on the defensive end, and the Bulls can stick Noah on him to shut him down while on offense.
Expect a huge rebounding margin
Milwaukee, on the whole, lacks any front court talent to contend with Chicago while Bogut and Gooden are out and should get destroyed on the glass. Milwaukee will have to play small and hope the Bulls bigs can't beat them, while Chicago should play big and prove that they can.
Who rebounds for this team now? Ilysova has a very high rebounding rate largely due to a strong work ethic on the offensive glass, but the Bulls box out well, and they should have no trouble controlling the glass in this game.
Given how frequently Milwaukee will likely go small, it will be interesting to see if Omer Asik finds his way into the game or if he has to sit out again. The Bulls elected to matchup small against Atlanta playing John Lucas at SG rather than playing Omer in a bigger lineup. An interesting decision given Lucas isn't exactly a dynamo out there.
Milwaukee will scrap
They're injury riddled, under-talented, and on the road, but Scot Skiles usually has his teams playing hard right up until the point they're in utter revolt and hate him. If Chicago handles the fundamentals and wins the rebound/turnover battles they should win the game without much difficulty.
However, they've shot the ball poorly recently which will allow Milwaukee to hang around, and if they don't extend a strong effort to push their advantages on the glass, they could be a hot shooting night from Jennings or Iylsova away from an upset.
Ironically for the Bucks, the fact that it's a road game probably helps them as the Chicago contingent in Milwaukee is significantly louder than the Chicago contingent at the United Center.
That all said, my bet is for an easy win for Chicago going into all-star weekend.