At the end of the day a win is a win but what an embarrassing performance by the Milwaukee Bucks. Struggling throughout the course of the game against a very depleted Celtics squad who was missing a majority of their key players. The Bulls come off a flabbergasting loss as well, blowing a massive lead to the anemic Pacers. While the Bulls season is about good as done, the Bucks are in a position to tie the Celtics for number one in the conference. Can they cruise past the Bulls in a crucial matchup?
Milwaukee Bucks vs Chicago Bulls Betting Odds
Oddsmakers certainly think so as they opened the Bucks as a -7 favorite on the road. Bettors are in agreement as well, backing the Bucks up to -8.5 as of writing. Flying past the key number of -8, I now have little interest unless this ticks back down. It’s especially worth waiting as Giannis has been a mainstay on the injury report, being labeled as Probable but still prone to a potential late scratch for load management. This is a pass for me until confirmation.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a moderate pace as oddsmakers opened the total at 229.5. Bettors have kept this total around the opener, ticking no lower than 229 and no higher than 230 depending on which shop you look at. Even though the Bucks are going against a much softer defense, their offense still plays friendly towards the under and are on little rest. The Bulls are in the opposite situation, now going against a much tougher defense after struggling to find scoring consistency against the Pacers.
Milwaukee Bucks vs Chicago Bulls Prediction
The Pick: Under 230
Whether Giannis is good to go or not, I will back the under at no lower than 229. Even against a much weaker defense, the Bucks offense will look to play a more conservative approach with heavier back up minutes while playing on short rest. It may be worth laying off on the under at the start of the game, assuming the Bucks will go pedal to the metal to get an early lead before calling off their assault. This protects Giannis, as well as slowing the pace down. I may add a second half piece pending the rhythm of the first half.
As for the Bulls, their offense has been prone to prolonged empty possessions due to a lack of playmakers. DeMar DeRozan has been dealing with a nagging injury, being tagged as Doubtful for this matchup. Even though his style of play is outdated, his offensive production is crucial as it sucks opposing defenses into the middle. He specializes in attacking the mid-range, taking defenders off the dribble and pulling up for an open look while they are reeling.
Without him, the Bulls have had to rely on playmaking with their lack of depth which has resulted in ugly possessions. Zach LaVine is a capable scorer in his own right, but their offensive production takes a massive dip after him. Nikola Vucevic can knock down open looks but is incapable of creating his own opportunities on the outside, relying on LaVine to command defensive attention. To combat this, opposing defenses sag off towards the middle, cutting off LaVine’s driving capabilities and stagnating the offense.
- Bucks are 13-3 ATS in the last 16 meetings in Chicago
- Under is 11-4 in the last 15 meetings against each other
Can the Bulls limit the Bucks second chance opportunities?
Battle of the boards
The key to cashing in any under is limiting second chance opportunities as that prolongs scoring opportunities between possessions. The Bucks excel at crashing the boards amidst Giannis drives, knowing his layup results in a soft bounce off the rim for an easy put back.
The Bulls run big in the interior, possessing both Vucevic and Patrick Williams to try and anchor the paint. Their defensive capabilities will be crucial in not only forcing bad looks at the rim, but also cutting off second chance opportunities.
Back the under at no lower than 229 in what will be a sluggish performance between two stagnant units.
Milwaukee Bucks Starting Lineup
Chicago Bulls Starting Lineups
Milwaukee Bucks Injuries: Giannis Antetokounmpo (P), Pat Connaughton (O)
Chicago Bulls Injuries: Derrick Jones Jr (D), DeMar DeRozan (D), Goran Dragic (Q)