The Milwaukee Bucks begin their Title defense tonight when they take on their rival from Illinois, the Chicago Bulls, in Game One of the First Round at 5:30 PM (Central Time) tonight from inside the Fiserv Forum and will be televised on Bally Sports Wisconsin as well as nationally televised on TNT.
Here is the full series schedule (all times are Central):
After much jockeying among the Eastern Conference top four teams, the Bucks tanked a couple of games late in the year to be in the 3-6 matchup to face the Chicago Bulls in Round One.
I still not a fan of how the Bucks approached their playoff seeding because it’s going to hurt them not having home court if they play the Boston Celtics in the second round.
Of all of the playoff teams in the Eastern Conference, the Chicago Bulls are probably the team scuffling the most. The Bulls have gone 8-15 since the All-Star break and have a net rating of -7.1. Chicago has also dealt with injury issues with Lonzo Ball being out for the year and Patrick Williams being out, but he’s back in the fold for them.
Now it’s time for Milwaukee to show they’re the far superior team.
Here’s the four matchups from this season:
- January 21: Milwaukee wins 94-90
- March 4: Milwaukee wins 118-112
- March 22: Milwaukee wins 126-98
- April 5: Milwaukee wins 127-106
Here are the numbers in the regular season and how they compare:
Milwaukee doesn’t try to manufacture turnovers on their own and they don’t really put their opponents on the free throw line a ton. The biggest key for the Bucks is to not let DeMar DeRozen get to the free throw line. Maintaining discipline against Chicago’s volume shooter is step one in preventing the Bulls from finding an offensive rhythm.
Chicago grabs defensive rebounds at a top-ten rate, so I’m anxious to see how the Bucks do on the offensive glass.
Chicago allows the highest percentage of shots at the rim in the entire NBA at 36.5%. So that means Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez should be able to feast in the paint.
In any one NBA game, there are 240 minutes up for grabs (5 players x 48 minutes). I don’t expect a whole lot of in-series adjustments from Bud on a personnel standpoint, so here’s how I’d like players minutes average to play out in the series:
Jrue Holiday – 38 minutes
Wesley Matthews – 23 minutes
Grayson Allen – 21 minutes
Jevon Carter/George Hill combo – 10 minutes
Giannis Antetokounmpo – 38 minutes
Khris Middleton – 38 minutes
Pat Connaughton – 24 minutes
Brook Lopez – 28 minutes
Bobby Portis – 20 minutes
Game One Prediction:
Milwaukee 119, Chicago 112.
I typically don’t like to discredit an opponent, but I just can’t see this series going any other way than a Milwaukee Bucks win. Chicago’s perimeter defense can’t cover up for their interior deficiencies, Caruso doesn’t have a chance against Jrue Holiday and Giannis and Brook can live in the paint. Perhaps DeRozen can get hot and potentially get Chicago a win in the series, but even when he scored 40 against Milwaukee on April 5th, Chicago still lost by 21. It’s a mismatch on paper and in the numbers.
Bucks in four.