The Milwaukee Bucks will bid to bounce back from consecutive losses on the road when they host the Chicago Bulls on Monday night.
Milwaukee dropped a 126-124 decision to the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night and a 112-97 setback to the Orlando Magic two days later.
Giannis Antetokounmpo backed up his 54-point night in Indiana with a 35-point, 10-rebound, seven-assist performance vs. Orlando.
With Damian Lillard sitting out a second straight game due to a sore left calf, backup point guard Cameron Payne was second on the team in scoring with 14 against the Magic.
“Defensively, man, I feel like we got to take it up a notch,” Antetokounmpo said. “This is not who we are. This is not the Milwaukee Bucks. We gotta guard people.”
Entering the season with the departure of Jrue Holiday in the trade for Lillard, defense was a question mark for this Bucks team. Milwaukee is allowing an average of 119.3 points per game, which ranks 25th in the NBA entering Monday’s games.
“We just have to do a better job defensively, collectively, helping each other,” Bucks first-year coach Adrian Griffin said. “This is a learning curve for us. We have to guard and move our feet, trust that the help is going to be there.”
Chicago will be on the second night of a back-to-back on Monday, one day after posting a 119-108 victory over the Detroit Pistons.
DeMar DeRozan led the Bulls with 29 points as well as four blocks. Nikola Vucevic recorded a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds to go with four assists.
“We got some really, really good looks,” Chicago coach Billy Donovan said. “As long as we continue to try to play the right way and generate the right shots for each other, we live with the results.”
Said DeRozan: “We had to pay Detroit back for getting us at their place; now we have another opportunity to go down and play against an extremely talented Milwaukee Bucks team.”
The Bulls were without defensive stopper Alex Caruso on Sunday due to an injured left toe. His status for Monday’s game was not known.
The Bucks are led in points and rebounds per game by Antetokounmpo with 28.9 and 9.4, respectively. Lillard leads the way with 4.7 assists per night, while Brook Lopez adds 2.1 blocks.
Chicago is led in scoring by DeRozan (22.2 points per game) and Zach LaVine (22.1). Coby White is contributing a team-best 4.7 assists per game, while Vucevic is averaging 10.7 rebounds.
“The passion, I don’t think a lot of people get to see within the guys,” DeRozan said. “Just wanting to figure it out. On the outside a lot of people look at it as a lot of chaos, the whole team meeting thing and everything. Everyone in this locker room wants to win.”
After the Bucks swept the four-game season series in 2021-22, the series was split last season. Chicago won the first two contests before Milwaukee responded with a 112-100 win on the road and a 105-92 victory at home.
–Field Level Media
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