If the playoffs started today, Bulls & Bucks would face off in the East's first round. Chicago goes for the regular-season sweep of their neighbors tonight as a 3.5-point road favorites on NBA odds.
Bulls Waiting On Rose
Chicago (45-29) is probably going to finish third in the Eastern Conference standings although it's not out of the question to catch Cleveland for the Central Division title and No. 2 seed. I don't expect that because the Cavaliers currently hold a 2.5-game lead and I'm not sure they will lose three times the rest of the regular season. The Bulls face the Cavs for the final time on Sunday in Cleveland. In one respect it might be smarter for the Bulls to drop to No. 4 because that way they could avoid Cleveland until the conference finals. Not that potentially playing Atlanta in the conference semifinals is a piece of cake.
The Bulls have won three straight, all by double digits, since All-Star guard Jimmy Butler returned from an elbow injury last Monday; of course Butler starred collegiately in Milwaukee at Marquette. Don't be surprised if Nikola Mirotic is not only named the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for March but also the overall Player of the Month in the East. He averaged 20.8 points and 7.6 rebounds in March. Chicago also got some pretty good news on Monday when Derrick Rose took part in a full-contact practice since undergoing his latest knee surgery. He last played in a game on Feb. 23. You won't see Rose on Wednesday but perhaps by early next week. Obviously the more games he can play before the end of the regular season to get back in sync with his teammates the better. The Bulls have eight regular-season games remaining.
“Ultimately, he’s got to feel comfortable,” Coach Tom Thibodeau said. “Can’t put him out there if he doesn’t feel comfortable.
In addition, Bulls power forward and top reserve Taj Gibson is also slowly getting back into form after missing almost a month with a left ankle injury. Chicago has very rarely had all its key guys healthy for a game this season. Chicago is 35-39 against the NBA betting spread and 38-35-1 'over/under.'
New Uniforms for Bucks?
Milwaukee (36-38) is trying to hold off Miami for the No. 6 seed as I'm sure the Bucks would prefer to play Toronto or Chicago in the first round of the playoffs instead of No. 2 Cleveland. Honestly don't think it will matter as the Bucks will be one-and-done but perhaps could win a game or two vs. the Raptors or Bulls but not Cavaliers.
The Bucks enter on a two-game losing streak, falling by 13 at home to Golden State, the West's best team, on Saturday, and then by 13 against on Monday in Atlanta, the East's best team. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 18 to lead five Milwaukee players in double figures against the Hawks. Forward Jared Dudley didn't make the trip to Atlanta due to lower back problems but is expected to play Wednesday.
The team is planning to release some sort of news during halftime of this game. Reports are it will be a new color scheme for the jerseys for next season. Principal owners Wes Edens and Marc Lasry had talked about that since taking over the team last spring. The current scheme of forest green, red, silver and white has been in effect since the 2006-'07 season.
Milwaukee is 41-32-1 against the spread this season and 32-42 'over/under' on NBA odds.
Chicago would no doubt love a first-round playoff matchup with the Bucks because the Bulls have had little trouble with them this season and it's obviously easy travel to get to Milwaukee. On Nov. 5 in Milwaukee, the Bulls were 5-point favorites on NBA odds and won 95-86. Pau Gasol, the NBA's double-double leader, had 22 points and 14 rebounds. Gibson had 23 points. Rose did play in that one and had 13 points and seven assists. It was Chicago's ninth straight win in Milwaukee. On Jan. 10 in Chicago, the Bulls were -6 at sportsbooks and won 95-87 behind a career-high 46 points (and 18 rebounds) from Gasol. He was the first Bulls player with at least 46 points and 18 rebound since MJ in 1990. It was the most points scored against Milwaukee since LeBron James had 55 on Feb. 20, 2009. Rose sat that one out. And on Feb. 23 in the Windy City, the Bulls were -7 and won 87-71. Mirotic had 16 points and 14 rebounds and Gasol 15 points and 10 boards. Rose was an awful 1-for-13 from the field. That was Chicago's sixth straight win in the series overall.
NBA Free Picks: Bit surprised this line opening line was so low. Give the points and go 'under' the total for this NBA pick. Chicago has covered five straight overall vs. the Bucks and 10 of the past 12 in Milwaukee. The 'under' is 4-1 in the past five meetings.