This season has gone surprisingly well for the Chicago Bulls, or so one would think. Chicago is 39-23 and in second place in the Eastern Conference. However, recent losses to the Memphis Grizzlies and Miami Heat have fans thinking the Bulls may be a mirage at Bulls vs Milwaukee game.
The Milwaukee Bucks look to pour fuel on the fire of doubt that Chicago has when they meet at United Center Friday night. It’s the second game of a back-to-back for the Bulls, who visit Atlanta Thursday,
At 38-25, the Bucks are only three games behind Miami in the East, but this squad has had some recent concerns as well, Milwaukee lost four of its last six games to wind down the month of February, feeling like a team on cruise control until the postseason and a defense ot its 2021 NBA title.
Friday’s game does feature two MVP candidates, including the Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak has been a walking double-double lately, going for at least 26 points and 11 rebounds in four straight games heading into Milwaukee’s meeting with the Heat on Wednesday.
Chicago’s DeMar DeRozan is also in the discussion for the MVP, even though he showed he’s human by being held to 18 points vs. the Heat on Monday. “DeMarvelous” had gone for 31-plus points in 10 straight games prior, and during that span also set an NBA record with eight consecutive games of 35-plus points while shooting better than 50% from the field. DeRozan can match Antetokounmpo Friday night, but which teams’ secondary players provide the edge?
It’s not right to refer to the likes of Zach LaVine or Khris Middleton as a ‘secondary player,’ but that’s not downgrading them. It’s just a testament to how great DeRozan and Antetokounmpo have been this year. That said, Middleton had also been held under 20 points in four of five games heading into the Bucks’ game with the Heat, while LaVine still doesn’t look like himself after a knee injury. He did score 48 points in the first two games after the All-Star break.
Friday night’s game could actually be decided on the blocks, where Chicago would seem to have an edge with 7-footer Nikola Vucevic. He was held to 12 points against the Hawks, 11 vs. the Grizzlies and 14 against Miami, prompting faux coaches calling for new signee Tristan Thompson to get the start at center.
Energetic Bobby Portis squares off against his old team in Chicago. Portis had 30 points and 12 boards in the Bucks’ loss to the Nets Saturday, then went for 20 and 10 in a win over Charlotte.
The Bucks won, 94-90, in the teams’ first and only meeting earlier this season. In that game, Milwaukee’s Grayson Allen had a dirty foul on Chicago’s Alex Caruso that has sidelined the Bulls’ guard since the January 21st meeting with a wrist injury. We will see if revenge is a dish best served cold (like Chicago-style pizza) when the Bulls try to quiet the critics Friday night.