After dropping two close games on the road, the Bucks (6-4) return home tonight to “host” the Chicago Bulls (5-6) in the “Border War”. The Bucks currently hold a 1.5 game lead on the Bulls in the Central Division. This game is the first of a three-day stretch in which the Bucks and Bulls will meet twice — today’s game in Milwaukee, Monday’s in Chicago.
Bulls: Kirk Hinrich, Rip Hamilton, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah
Bucks: Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, Tobias Harris, Ersan Ilyasova, Samuel Dalembert
The best way to sum up the Bulls season thus far is this: they greatly miss Derrick Rose, who is rehabbing his ACL coming off surgery. Chicago has started off this year’s campaign with a 5-6 record with out their superstar. This game against the Bucks is their last stop on a five-game road trip. They are 1-3 in that trip thus far, 93-89 loss to Houston on Wednesday, a game they controlled most of the way but failed to finish off the Rockets. Chicago is under .500 for the first time since November 5th, 2010.
Chicago has dominated this “Borde Battle” series recently, winning the last eight meetings by an average of 11.1 points. The last time these two met in Milwaukee, it was a hard fought battle that the Bulls won off a 20-foot buzzer beater by Derrick Rose. Luckily for the Bucks, the Bulls won’t have Derrick Rose any time soon.
An advantage for the Bucks may be shooting guard Monta Ellis, who’s playing the Bulls for the 1st time as a member of the Bucks. In his seven meetings with the Bulls during his time at Golden State, Ellis averaged 27.7 points on 47% shooting a game. The Bucks could certainly use a big night from him and fellow backcourt member Brandon Jennings against this Chicago defense, which ranks 9th in the NBA in points allowed per game.
If you were keen enough to notice how I emphasized the word “host” in the first sentence of this preview, I’ll give you my reasoning. If you’re a Milwaukee Bucks fan who watches Bucks games frequently, you’ll know that when the Chicago Bulls come to town, they bring a few busloads with them. That’s not to be taken literally, but Chicago fans are willing to travel the two-hour hike north and are willing to pay for tickets. In previous years, the Bucks and the BMO HBC has literally “hosted” the Bulls in what basically was a home game for Chicago, as Bulls fans have drove up and Milwaukee fans stayed home.
If this year was a normal season for the Bulls, I would be VERY concerned as a Bucks fan about the Chicago fans taking over the BMO Bradley Center today. Today’s game is on a Saturday, coming right off a holiday, a recipe that does not favor a crowd full of Bucks fans. However, with the Bulls having a rough start, and the Bucks playing solid basketball, we may see a more even crowd tonight. Regardless, if you’re a Bucks fan in Milwaukee reading this: Go to the game tonight. Cheer on your team! Save us from hearing the Bulls fans during the TV broadcast!