Preview: Bulls at Bucks
Even as management seems to be looking to the future, the Chicago Bulls have won three straight games as they head to Milwaukee to take on the woeful Bucks. The Bulls edged Phoenix 92-87 on Tuesday in their first game since trading leading scorer Luol Deng to Cleveland, and they're after a season-high third straight road win. The Bucks, who have lost three straight and 11 of 13, own the NBA's worst record by a wide margin.
Chicago is sixth in the weak Eastern Conference but hardly seems to have its sights set on the playoffs -- at least not this year. "At the start of the season we expected to be one of the top two or three teams in the conference, but after we learned that (point guard) Derrick (Rose) would be lost for most if not all of the season, tough decisions had to be made," Bulls operations chief John Paxson told reporters. "We came to the conclusion that we would need more financial flexibility in order to build a complete roster in the future." Milwaukee's rebuilding effort is still on the ground floor, as the Bucks rank last in the league in offensive efficiency and 23rd among 30 teams in defensive efficiency.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, CSN Chicago, FSN Wisconsin (Milwaukee)
ABOUT THE BULLS (15-18): If any team can survive losing two of its top offensive players - Rose to injury and Deng via trade - it might be the Bulls, who rank second in the league in defensive efficiency. Their last two wins have also come without forward Carlos Boozer (knee), whose 14.7 points are the most among Chicago's remaining players. Rookie Tony Snell (5.5 points) scored 12 points in the first game without Deng and he likely will see more playing time and get a chance to produce more at the offensive end going forward.
ABOUT THE BUCKS (7-27): Things have been rough on and off the court for Milwaukee as center Larry Sanders and reserve guard Gary Neal hashed out their differences in the locker room following a 116-110 loss at Phoenix on Saturday. "We're back in love with one another," Bucks coach Larry Drew told reporters after Tuesday's 101-80 defeat versus Golden State. "It's a very emotional game and tempers do flare. The most important thing is that there is no snowball effect - we make it an isolated incident." The Bucks also have been plagued by injuries and have used 18 different lineups and had 12 different players lead the team in scoring in at least one game.
1. The Bulls have won seven straight meetings in Milwaukee dating to 2009.
2. Since the start of the 2010-11 season, the Bulls are 73-9 when holding opponents under 90 points, but they're only 12-5 when doing so this season.
3. Bucks SF Caron Butler (11.2 points, 5.3 rebounds) is shooting just 32.7 percent at home and has not shot higher than 40 percent from the field in any home game this season.
PREDICTION: Bulls 94, Bucks 85
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