Up next for the Bulls: an immediate trip to take on the Bucks. What could go wrong?

It will be the second games of back-to-backs for both the Bucks and the Bulls, who are in the odd position of needing to clinch the season series against their customary tormentors.

SHARE Up next for the Bulls: an immediate trip to take on the Bucks. What could go wrong?
Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks are waiting for the Bulls.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks are waiting for the Bulls.

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

In a perfect world, the Bulls — fighting to the regular-season finish line for play-in-tournament position — would take the court Wednesday in Milwaukee and see a barely recognizable Bucks lineup waiting for them.

But since when did the Bulls know anything about perfect?

More likely, the Bucks — who still don’t quite have the No. 1 playoff seed in the Eastern Conference in their grasp — will have their big guns — or at least most of them — ready to go. They hold a three-game lead over the Celtics with three games to go for each team, but the Celtics own the head-to-head tiebreaker.

It will be the second games of back-to-backs for both the Bucks and the Bulls, who are in the odd position of needing to clinch the season series against their customary tormentors. The Bulls won the first two meetings but — another oddity — lost the third despite Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo playing only nine minutes before getting hurt. DeMar DeRozan averaged a robust 39 points in those three games.

Coach Billy Donovan promised a ‘‘big discussion’’ with players and medical staff to see who can and can’t play against the Bucks after the Bulls’ game Tuesday against the Hawks at the United Center. One would hope the answer to that was addressed the other day by banged-up guard Alex Caruso, who said, ‘‘There’s no letting up at this point.’’

But Caruso has been dealing with a sprained left foot, which must continue to be monitored.

The Bulls are 6-8 in the second games of back-to-backs this season.

Flipping the switch

Guards Patrick Beverley and Caruso get more recognition for their defense, but forward Patrick Williams continues to expand his presence at that end of the floor. That’s especially evident when the Bulls go small and into switch-everything mode.

Not that they’re crazy enough to tempt fate with that strategy when the Bucks’ Antetokounmpo and Robin Lopez are on the floor. But name an offensive position, and Williams figures he can hold his own defending it.

‘‘I kind of like that, being able to guard each and every position, 1-5,’’ he said. ‘‘Personally — kind of selfishly — just showing that I can do that, testing my skill and my ability in-game doing that, I think that’s something we’ve kind of looked at as the season goes on as a weapon that we can have in our back pocket.’’

Doubles and triples

Entering Tuesday, center Nikola Vucevic was one double-double shy of a personal high — 49 — as a Bull. He matched that with 19 points and 10 rebounds against the Hawks. Vucevic, whose career high of 61 double-doubles came in 2018-19 with the Magic, and Williams are the only Bulls to play in every game this season.

Guard Coby White needed one three-pointer — his 556th — to pass Michael Jordan for fifth in team history. He didn’t get it, shooting 0-for-4 from behind the arc.

So you’re saying there’s a chance

The Bucks are the closest thing to a favorite to win the NBA title, entering Tuesday at 3-to-1 or better on most betting sites. The Celtics and Suns have only slightly longer odds.

The longest shots? Among teams in the play-in mix, they would be the Thunder and your Bulls, each at around 500-to-1.

The Latest
The three-alarm blaze broke out about 6 p.m. Tuesday at a building supply warehouse at 2029 W. Hubbard St., according to the Chicago Fire Department. It was upgraded to a four-alarm fire shortly before 7 p.m.
They make nine schools that have been renamed since a Chicago Sun-Times investigation in 2020 found 30 schools were named for slaveholders, and schools named after white people — mostly men — outnumbered those named for African Americans by 4-1, Latinos 9-1 and indigenous people 120-1.
Critic calls City Hall decision “extremely alarming” as temperatures are expected to exceed 90 degrees again.
The boy was walking out of his home about 3 p.m. in the 2300 block of West Jackson Boulevard when shots were fired, striking him in the chest, police said. Sources say an assault-style rifle was used in the attack.