Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Bucks-Bulls Preview: It’s Almost Over


Having dropped the last two to Chicago, the Bucks will look to even up the season series.

Who’s playing?

The Milwaukee Bucks (14-61) and the Chicago Bulls (43-32).

Where are they playing?

The United Center. Chicago, Illinois.

When are they playing?

Friday, April 4. 7:00 PM CT

What’s at stake?

Heading into Friday on a three-game winning streak, Chicago is tied with Toronto for the third seed in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls hold a 2.5 game lead over Brooklyn for home court advantage in what – if the season ended today – would be a rematch of last season’s first round 4-5 matchup, which Chicago won in seven games.

For the Bucks, things aren’t quite as rosy. Instead of fighting for playoff position, Milwaukee remains locked in a battle with Philadelphia for the NBA’s worst record. The Sixers beating Detroit last weekend, coupled with the Bucks falling to Miami, put Milwaukee “up” two games with seven contests remaining for both clubs.

The Bucks do have a victory over Chicago earlier in the season and will look to tie up the season series at two games apiece.

Did the Bulls win their last game?

Yes, a 105-92 victory over the Atlanta Hawks. D.J. Augustin scored 23 points off the bench, and Joakim Noah added 10 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.

Did the Bucks win their last game?

They played the Heat. So, no.

Who’s their best player?

Over the past two months, Joakim Noah has done nothing short of physically putting this Bulls team on his back. After posting averages of 13.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.6 blocks in February, Noah somehow upped his production across the board last month. In 16 March contests, Noah posted 14.1 points, 9.9 boards, 7.5 assists and 1.9 blocks.

Of course, Chicago’s actual best player has not seen the floor since suffering a season-ending knee injury on Nov. 22.

Who’s hot for the Bucks?

Does Ramon Sessions shooting 50 percent from the field over the last two games qualify as “hot?” If so, Ramon Sessions.

What’s the injury situation?

Chicago: Derrick Rose (knee) is out for the season.

Milwaukee: Carlos Delfino (foot), Ersan Ilyasova (ankle), Larry Sanders (face) and Nate Wolters (hand) are out for the season. O.J. Mayo has missed the last four games and is a game-time decision.

What happened last time?

Chicago won 81-72 at the Bradley Center on January 10. The Bucks shot 31.8 percent from the field. 31.8 percent.

And the time before that? 

Mike Dunleavy banked in a three with 5.8 seconds remaining to give Chicago a 91-90 win on Dec. 13.

And the time before that?

Three days earlier, Milwaukee grinded out a 78-74 victory behind 25 points (11-17 FG), 14 rebounds and six blocks from John Henson.

Projected starters

Bulls

C – Joakim Noah

PF – Taj Gibson

SF – Mike Dunleavy

SG – Jimmy Butler

PG – Kirk Hinrich

Bucks

C – Zaza Pachulia

PF – Jeff Adrien

SF – Khris Middleton

SG – Ramon Sessions

PG – Brandon Knight

Team rankings

Bulls

Scoring: 30th (93.2)

Scoring defense: 2nd (91.9)

Rebounding: 10th (44.4)

Assists: 11th (22.5)

Bucks

Scoring: 28th (95.0)

Scoring defense: 24th (103.3)

Rebounding: 24th (41.2)

Assists: 16th (21.4)

Leaders

Points: Knight (17.5), Augustin (14.5)

Assists: Knight (4.9), Noah (5.2)

Rebounds: Henson (7.2), Noah (11.1)

Blocks: Henson (1.7), Noah (1.5)

PER: Sessions (19.6), Noah (20.2)

Tags: Bucks Milwaukee Bucks