Winners of 11 of 12 and coming off of a hard-fought victory at home against the Grizzlies, the Chicago Bulls head north on I-94 to face their neighbor and Central Division rival Milwaukee Bucks. With the Celtics' first home loss of the season to an Eastern Conference opponent, the Bulls now enjoy a two-game lead in the race for home court advantage in the East.
The Bucks are chasing the final playoff seed in the Eastern Conference, winning four of five games to pull within two games of the Pacers. Milwaukee had designs on a much higher seed this season, but regression from key players and free agents that haven't fit in as well as hoped have hurt the Bucks' growth. That, and the fact that they are the NBA's worst offensive team, ranking last in scoring, assists and field goal percentage.
When last they played, the Bulls held the Bucks to their lowest point total at home this season in an 83-75 win, a game that was never really in doubt and seemed more like it was played at the United Center North than the Bradley Center. A victory Saturday would be the Bulls first sweep of their northern neighbor since the 2006-2007 season.
Bucks To Watch For
Brandon Jennings seems to have a few games a year where he absolutely goes off, and lucky for the Bulls he logged it last night against the Knicks, scoring 37 points and hitting over 50% of his shots. Andrew Bogut continued his steady improvement this season from last year's horrific arm injury, scoring 21 points and 17 rebounds. Strange things are afoot in Scott Skiles' rotation, as expected contributors Corey Maggette, Earl Boykins, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Drew Gooden combined for 2:24 of court time against the Knicks. Lately it has been the inspired play of Carlos Delfino that has helped the Bucks notch a few key W's as they push to make the NBA's second season.
Bulls To Watch For
The Bulls need their starting frontcourt tandem of Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer to find a rhythm, as coach Tom Thibodeau alluded to after last night's game. Boozer especially, as he has continued to struggle post-ankle injury as he had before it. To be effective, Boozer needs to get the ball in his comfortable spots on the court (left block, free throw line, right baseline), and it is up to the league-favorite for MVP to deliver the ball when Boozer is there. Noah simply has not looked for his offense since returning from thumb surgery, a product of the Bulls finding solid scoring elsewhere in his absence and Noah not feeling entirely comfortable with his shot yet. However it shakes out, the Bulls need their starting duo to find some on-court chemistry as the playoffs draw near.