May 1, 2015. That date will live in infamy as the day the Chicago Bulls clobbered the Milwaukee Bucks by 54 points in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference playoffs. It was also the last time the Bulls were in Milwaukee. However, that all changes tonight as Chicago rolls into the 414 for the first time of the season tonight and for the second matchup of the year between the two teams.
The Bucks continued their season trend by producing on an inconsistent basis by coughing up a blowout loss to the Knicks a few nights ago. It came following a thrilling home victory over the Dallas Mavericks. Milwaukee has now lost three of their last four, including a lopsided defeat to the Bulls. They will be searching for victory tonight in Round 2.
Jimmy Butler was a major key to the Bulls success in the first meeting. The shooting guard put up 32 points on 11-of-21 shooting for Chicago, registering two three-pointers. Butler has been on a tear throughout his last ten games, tallying over 23 points per game. In the month of January alone, he is putting forth 27 points exactly. The winter months have always been kind to Jimmy Butler, as it was during this time last year he got hot and surged into the All-Star voting. It looks as if lightning is striking twice for him once again.
Greg Monroe’s incapability of providing a formidable defense was exploited well by the Bulls in the two team’s prior matchup a week ago. Pau Gasol carved him up for 26 points, all coming within the paint. Monroe’s contributions to the Bucks have been one-dimensional as of late, as he can provide a consistent effort on the offensive side of things, but simply cannot be trusted on the defensive side of the ball. Despite their ranking this season, this is a Bucks team where defense reigns supreme, and Monroe has simply not been able to cut it regarding that characteristic. Look for him to improve on his game tonight in the rematch against Chicago.
The Bulls have somewhat come back to Earth following their six-game winning streak, having lost consecutive games to the Hawks and Wizards on the road. Milwaukee will aim at stringing three consecutive defeats, something that is definitely possible. Unfortunately for the Bucks, a home court advantage will most likely not be on their side, as plenty of Bulls fans will be making the 90-minute trek north tonight to the Bradley Center. However, the Bucks will hopefully be acclimated to the Bulls’ tendencies, registering a chance for them to come out with a well-needed victory tonight.