Enemy: By the Horns
Keyon Dooling vs. Derrick Rose
Rose has been something of a monster this year. He’s visibly improved in every aspect of the game, from defense to 3-point shooting to passing. He’s looking every bit like a former number one pick and is a safe bet to wreak all kinds of havoc on the Bucks makeshift point guard unit of Dooling and Earl Boykins. The shakiest part of his game offensively is the in-between space of 10-15 feet. Last season he shot 50% from that range, but he’s down to just 31% this year. Milwaukee has to run him off the 3-point line and keep him from getting all the way to the cup. Defending Dooling will start with Dooling and end with Bogut.
John Salmons vs. Keith Bogans
While Salmons is a mystery man, capable of all kinds of different nights, it’s a pretty safe bet what we’ll get out of Bogans this evening. Once a very competent 3-point shooter, he’s hitting just 30% from deep this season and the rest of his offense is no better. Bogans will simply be in to make Salmons work for his points and try and prevent him from getting clean looks off screens.
Chris Douglas-Roberts vs. Luol Deng
CD-R may head back to the bench after a rough defensive outing against the Hawks. Deng isn’t the same level athlete as Josh Smith, a player that gave Milwaukee problems Monday, but he’s still a very good athlete and a much better 3-point shooter. Deng’s 3-point percentage is up around 39% this season and he’s still doing a lot of the other things that make him such a good player. He gave the Bucks fits with his rebounding last season and could very well do the same in Chicago Tuesday night, as the Bucks have struggled mightily on the glass lately.
Ersan Ilyasova vs. Carlos Boozer
The matchup between Ilyasova and Boozer paints a larger picture of the differences between Chicago and Milwaukee right now. The Bulls have guys like Boozer and Rose, players they can rely on every night. Nobody is perfect, but eight out of 10 nights, Boozer and Rose will both have above average games, it’s a given. Ilyasova on the other hand, it completely unpredictable. Sure, he could have a good game against the Bulls, but he could go scoreless too. Maybe he could even put together four or five straight strong games, but everyone knows it isn’t sustainable. Milwaukee’s biggest problem right now comes with that lack of sustainability. Boozer will have something like 20 and 10 tonight, but I could never predict what Ilyasova will do.
Andrew Bogut vs. Kurt Thomas
Joakim Noah’s injury most significantly hurts the Bulls in terms of rebounding. Thomas, try as he will, is a much less capable rebounder than Noah. Milwaukee’s been struggling some on the glass of late, so the presence of Noah could have really paid off for Chicago on the offensive end. Thomas spent a season playing with Bogut last year, so he no doubt knows where Bogut likes the ball and will do his best to keep him off his spots. Bogut is significantly more talented than Thomas though, and should be able to score effectively more often than not. He’ll likely be looking to rebound after a poor outing against the Hawks.
Jon Brockman, Corey Maggette, Luc Mbah a Moute, Earl Boykins and Larry Sanders
Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, Taj Gibson, Omer Asik and CJ Watson
Korver can shoot, Brewer can drive, Watson can run a team, Gibson can defend and rebound and Asik is a big body. The roles of the Chicago bench players are clearly defined and based around their talents. Most importantly, they work well with each other and the starters. Meanwhile, Milwaukee’s bench is in a constant state of flux thanks to injuries and inconsistent performances across the board. Maggette flashed some effective offense again against the Hawks, but he generally comes in and stalls up the offense. Worse, Milwaukee lacks barely any 3-point shooting off the bench.
Prediction: Bulls 89 – Bucks 78
Who am I kidding though? Milwaukee is so unpredictable, that it wouldn’t shock me to see them drop 100 and win or drop 68 and lose. The Bucks are very sporadic. Chicago is consistent enough though that they should be able to take care of the Bucks with relative ease. It’s rare Milwaukee matches up with a team that’s better defensively, and that’s the case in the Windy City. Milwaukee likely won’t be able to ride their defense to the finish line in this one, they’ll need to find a way to produce some points if they want to stay with the Bulls.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter. Then become a fan on Facebook (in the sidebar).