Chuck's Daily Check In - 02.25.19
Chuck previews tonight's game against the Bucks and tells us what's happening around the league
GAME NIGHT FROM THE UNITED CENTER: Milwaukee (45-14, 20-9 on the road) at Bulls (16-44, 7-23 at home)
TV: NBC Sports Chicago. Neil Funk and Stacey King. 7PM CT.
RADIO: 670 The Score. Chuck Swirsky, Bill Wennington and Steve Kashul. 6:45 CT pre.
LEADING SCORERS: Bulls: LaVine: 23ppg. Bucks: Antetokounmpo: 27ppg.
LEADING REBOUNDERS: Bulls: Markkanen: 9 per. Bucks: Antetokounmpo : 12 per.
LEADING ASSISTS: Bulls: Dunn: 6 per. Bucks: Antetokounmpo : 6 per.
SEASON SERIES: Milwaukee 3-0.
CCI PREVIEW: The Bulls are feeling good as they're in a comfort zone of consistent offensive play led by Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Otto Porter Jr. and Robin Lopez. That's right, Robin Lopez. "Rolo" is doing some serious hoopin' and look for more tonight against his twin brother, Brook. Robin's drop step-curl moves have baffled opposing big men allowing Lopez to average 67% from the field in eight February games. In a five-game span, Robin is averaging 19 points per game.
Both LaVine and Markkanen have elevated their games and we have come to expect near double-double performances from Markkanen on a nightly basis. Markkanen is enjoying an incredible month putting up 26 points and 12 rebounds per game. What I like about Markkanen's game, especially of late, is his ability to drive to the rim and draw contact. He's averaging seven free throw attempts over the last four games. He's made 26 of his last 28 from the line.
LaVine is playing spectacularly. He can get the basket with his sheer determination and athleticism. He's got the entire package of a lethal offensive game. His confidence shooting the three rock is soaring. Credit his teammates for recognizing when Zach gets in that zone. As I often tell my broadcast partner Bill Wennington, on 670 The Score, "Give the ball to Zach and get out of the way!"
Otto Porter Jr is questionable with a lower left left leg strain.
Milwaukee marches in to the United Center looking for a season series sweep. In three contests against the Bulls, Milwaukee is averaging 117 points per game, shooting 49% from the floor. Giannis Antetokounmpo in my opinion is the leader for MVP honors; there are a number of worthy candidates, but make no mistake about it, Giannis is going to be around a long time and he's only scratched the surface of his greatness. I love how he competes. I love his passion. I love his joy for the game. His numbers in February are off the chart: 32 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists while shooting a blistering 64% from the floor. Are you kidding me? According to the Bucks injury report released Sunday night, Antetokounmpo is doubtful with right knee soreness. George Hill is out with a groin injury.
Khris Middleton is a baller. You may not notice him, but trust me, at the end of the game you will notice his effectiveness and productivity. There is a reason he's an All-Star. An understated All-Star.
The Bucks are all in as General Manger Jon Horst has jumpstarted their roster with additions such as Niko Mirotic and George Hill. Milwaukee leads the Eastern Conference hoping to hold off Toronto for the top seed. Head Coach Mike Budenholzer has done a fantastic job instilling defensive and offensive schemes that match the roster's makeup.
Here's a great stat from @bengolliver.
140-point games by the Milwaukee Bucks
-- 5 times in 59 games under coach Mike Budenholzer
-- 4 times total in previous 30 seasons combined
CCI 24 SECONDS NBA NEWS AND NOTES
New York 130, San Antonio 118: Break up the Knicks! New York wins its 12th game and in the process it ends a franchise record home losing streak of 18 games. The Spurs have lost six out of their last seven games.
Orlando 113, Toronto 98: The Magic ended the Raptors seven-game win streak. Terrence Ross, a former Raptor, scored 28 points and pulled down nine rebounds. Kawhi Leonard did not play (rest).
Denver 123, Los Angeles Clippers 96: Nikola Jokic and Paul Milsap combined for 43 points and 32 rebounds. Denver improved to 26-4 at home and moved to within one game of Golden State in the Western Conference.