Game: Chicago Bulls @ Milwaukee Bucks
Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
Odds: Bulls +10, Bucks -10
Milwaukee beating Chicago in Game 1 of their playoff series was no surprise. The Bucks have owned the Bulls over the last several seasons. The surprise was the final score, 93-86. It was an even bigger surprise when the Bulls held the lead with five minutes to play in the game. Of course, Chicago ended up losing, but that should give the Bulls some confidence heading into Game 2.
Chicago has struggled all season long against the best teams in the NBA. In games against Miami, Boston, and Milwaukee (the top three teams in the Eastern Conference), the Bulls managed zero wins this season. If Chicago is going to extend this series, they are going to have to beat a very good basketball team at some point.
The Bulls did hold the NBA’s third-highest scoring offense to just 93 points. They held Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton to a combined 26 points, but Chicago had no answer for Giannis Antetokounmpo who scored 27. No team really has an answer for the Bucks star, but the Bulls need to do something. One thing would be to force 21 turnovers like they did in Game 1. Limiting the Bucks transition opportunities is a step in the right direction.
Chicago will also need its stars to step forward. DeMar DeRozan, the Bulls’ leading scorer averaging nearly 28 points a game, shot just 24 percent from the field and totaled 18 points in Game 1. That isn’t going to cut it for the Bulls. Another positive sign for Chicago is that Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic combined for 42 points in Game 1. If they can keep that up while DeRozan heats up, the Bulls may have a fighting chance once again in Game 2.
With the win in Game 1, the Bucks have now won four of their last five games. They are just 2-5 ATS however as they failed to cover the 10.5-point spread in Game 1. The Bucks were a very respectable 28-14 SU at home this season, but they were 16-26 ATS at the Fiserv Forum. The Bucks are just 1-4 ATS in their last five home games. Milwaukee faces a double-digit spread again tonight. Double-digit spreads haven’t been much of a problem for the Bucks this season as they are 10-5 ATS in 15 such games.
Game 1 was the first total to go Under for the Bucks in seven games. The Game 1 total was 230, and the 179 points scored seems more like an anomaly than a trend. Milwaukee ranks third in the NBA in scoring and the Bulls are 15th. Both teams are average on defense – 15th and 16th – and have the potential to give up a lot of points. In their last six regular-season games, the Bulls allowed 117 or more points in all six games. In the Bucks final six games, they gave up an average of 122 points a game.
The Under is the trend in the series though. Four of the last five Bulls-Bucks games have gone Under the total.