Game 18 Preview: Milwaukee Bucks (7-10) at Chicago Bulls (16-4)

Derrick Rose drives to the basket in a 2010 game while Brandon Jennings chases. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE

The Milwaukee Bucks are 7-5 with Andrew Bogut in the lineup — a mark that isn’t going to be changing anytime soon. Bogut will be out indefinitely with a fractured ankle.

The Bucks, winless without Bogut this year (0-5), travel to Chicago to face Derrick Rose and the Bulls.

The Bulls are coming off a loss to the Pacers and travel to Miami to take on the Heat Sunday.  Derrick Rose didn’t take kindly to the Pacers’ gleeful win, either.

“I’ll never forget how they celebrated just from winning this game,” Rose said after the game. “I can’t wait to play them again.”

With any luck, the Bulls will have forgotten that they have a game with the Bucks tonight, and Derrick Rose won’t take his wrath out against Milwaukee.

If the season ended today, the two teams would meet in the first round of the playoffs, with the Bulls taking the number one spot in the East and the Bucks eking in with the final spot.  

Offensive Efficiency:
Milwaukee: 100.2 (21st)
Chicago: 108.0 (3rd)

Defensive Efficiency:
Milwaukee: 102.2 (17th)
Chicago: 96.6 (2nd)

Milwaukee: 92.9 (9th)
Chicago: 89.3 (26th)

Projected Lineups:
76ers: Derrick Rose, Richard Hamilton, Ronnie Brewer, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah
Bucks: Brandon Jennings, Shaun Livingston, Carlos Delfino, Luc Mbah a Moute, Drew Gooden

Box Score Advantage: Painting an Ugly Picture

Now that Bogut is out for an extended period, the Bucks face the challenge of defending on the interior without him.  Of late, Ersan Ilyasova has been tremendous on that end, but he will need help and, other than Luc Mbah a Moute, the Bucks may not have the personnel to help him.

Without a true center on the roster, the Bucks could look to add a player.  According to Charles F. Garnder of the Journal Sentinel,

Hammond said the Bucks will “explore options” at the center spot with the possibility of signing a player.

At the beginning of the season, there were rumors that the Bucks had interest in free agent center Joel Przybilla.  Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times contacted Przybilla’s agent.

His agent, Bill Duffy, said in a text message that his client probably wouldn’t sign for a “few more weeks.”

It sounds like the Bucks are going to have a hole in the middle that they will need to fill with spare parts, at least for a while.  Tonight’s game — as well as all the remaining games — could hinge on how well they patch it up.

Matchup to watch: Brandon Jennings vs. Derrick Rose

Rose is the reigning MVP.  Jennings is now the best player on the Bucks and has improved significantly over than last season.  The tone of the game starts and ends here.

Bottom Line:

The Bulls are the best team in the East.

The Bucks are reeling and on the road.  They lost their one and only low-post scorer. They’ll need to continue some semblance of their hot three-point shooting from the Houston game (14-29 on 3-pt. FG) to score enough points to compete.

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Tags: Andrew Bogut Brandon Jennings Chicago Bulls Derrick Rose Drew Gooden Ersan Ilyasova Joel Przybilla Milwaukee Bucks

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