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On March 23, 2018, in Free Picks, NBA, by Stephen

Bucks minus 5 at Bulls

Who is the worst team in the NBA right now? As bad as the Suns, Grizzlies and Hawks are, my choice is the Bulls.

This wouldn’t be the case if the Bulls were healthy. But without their three best players – Kris Dunn, Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine – the Bulls are a JV team. And a bad one at that.

The Suns at least have Devin Booker. The Grizzlies have Marc Gasol. The Hawks have Dennis Schroder.

Who do the Bulls have left? This is Chicago’s starting lineup: Cameron Payne, Justin Holiday, Denzel Valentin, Paul Zipser and Cristian Felicio. That reads more like a law office than a starting NBA roster.

Denver was 11-23 on the road and minus its leading scorer, Gary Harris, when it played the Bulls at United Center two days ago. The Nuggets won by 33 points.

The Bucks aren’t likely to have Giannis Antetokounmpo for this game. Antetokounmpo suffered a sprained ankle in the Bucks’ last game this past Wednesday. The Bucks don’t need their star player, however, to bury the Bulls. Milwaukee still will have the three best players on the court in Kris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe and Jabari Parker. The Bucks also have the far superior bench.

Now let’s come to motivation, which is crucial at this late juncture of the season. The Bucks are clinging to a playoff spot. They can’t afford a loss to the lowly Bulls. Not with a home game on tap against the Spurs followed by a four-game West Coast trip. There’s no guarantee either that Antetokonumpo will return to the lineup soon. So the Bucks aren’t going to screw around here. They will rally around their superstar being out and easily defeat this patsy.

Chicago’s incentive? Below the surface it’s to increase its chances of getting a higher draft lottery pick. That’s why the Bulls aren’t in any rush to get their best players back on the court. It’s why they are playing 10 people, but not veteran Robin Lopez, their best center.

This series has a road team bias, too, with the visitor covering the past six times.

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