More like double no-vertime: Bulls 113 – Bucks 106

Chicago Bulls 113 Final
Recap | Box Score
106 Milwaukee Bucks
Ersan Ilyasova, PF 22 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | -13 +/-

The Bucks went small for the majority of the second half and both overtimes, leaving Ersan to watch from the sidelines. He had some moments early on, most obviously when he hit a three and then followed it up with another long jumper (where his toe was on the line – d’oh!). He also had a nice stretch defensively in the first half in which he blocked a shot and later stripped Joakim Noah as the center drove to the hoop.

But his lack of mobility wasn’t a great fit for what the Bucks were trying to do on the defensive end.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF 51 MIN | 10-22 FG | 5-8 FT | 12 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 25 PTS | 0 +/-

What was probably the best half of his career came at a good time. After rueing the fact that he’d never had a great game against the Bulls, Giannis came out and scored 17 points in the first half Thursday night. He drew fouls and finished, he scored in transition and he scored in the post.

The second half would not be as smooth. The Bulls did a better job of walling off the paint and some of the shots he finished early on he wasn’t able to finish late. Milwaukee also had a more difficult time defending Chicago in the second half, which limited the team’s effectiveness in transition, where Giannis most thrives.

Defensively, he can get a little lost off the ball at times and that certainly didn’t help the Bucks defend a barrage of Bulls 3-pointers.

I skipped the post game stuff because sometimes life needs to be lived, but from all accounts, he was bothered after the game. He got a taste of success and the high it comes with in the first half. That’s what he wants. He’s already tired of the failures – both big (last season) and small (the second half) he’s experience in two NBA seasons. He seems to really want to be great, which matters a lot. We’ll see how it plays out next game, but even better, we’ll see how it plays out next season. Angry Giannis spending and off season fuming about this loss doesn’t feel like such a bad thing.

Zaza Pachulia, C 19 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -18 +/-

There isn’t much to be said for Zaza’s game three performance. He hit one jump shot, but whenever he had the ball by the hoop, the Bulls front line just held their hands up high and he couldn’t really power through to finish. And everything Zaza could do defensively against Chicago, John Henson was doing as well or better.

Michael Carter-Williams, PG 43 MIN | 9-21 FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 9 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 19 PTS | -21 +/-

He was not without moments, but after this game all most people wanted to talk about was how much MCW dribbles the ball and how little he passes it. It really doesn’t seem to me like he’s dribbling any more than a guy like Derrick Rose, but there is one big difference: He is nowhere near as productive offensively as Derrick Rose. So him handling the ball as often and attacking as often looks so much worse, especially when he attempts only one free throw.

It wasn’t a great game by any interpretation for MCW, but, if you’re a fan of the long view, this was probably valuable experience for a guy who could potentially be Milwaukee’s point guard of the future. He was lit up by Rose in part because the guy who could never shoot a three hit five threes. He was lit up by Rose because Chicago’s point guard constantly got into the paint and found teammates outside the arc rather than keep his head down and get off a shot.

Rose has put on a clinic and the Bucks have to hope MCW has been taking notes he can study this summer.

Khris Middleton, SG 49 MIN | 6-17 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 18 PTS | -18 +/-

Jimmy Butler is a tough cover for Middleton. He just doesn’t quite have quick enough feet to stick with a guy like Butler on the perimeter. He’s been giving Middleton problems for most of the series, even though Middleton has had a few successful moments.

On the other end, his quick eight points in the last minute and a half of regulation almost won Milwaukee the game. Henson did a good job of screening off the ball for Middleton who made correct reads of the Bulls defense and found opening to launch 3-pointers on back to back possessions. It was a really nice sequence from him and an inspiring reminder that having a player who can make 3-point shots is quite useful.

Jared Dudley, SF 21 MIN | 4-6 FG | 1-4 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | +3 +/-

His deep ball sprung back to life and alongside it came a mid-range jumper too. Dudley was a spark with 10 first half points. This was only the second time since February 11 that he hit two threes in a game and they were big factors in Milwaukee’s building of an 18 point lead. Unfortunately, his offensive success could not carry over into the second half, as his looks dried up and his value diminished.

John Henson, C 39 MIN | 6-8 FG | 3-6 FT | 14 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | +11 +/-

He was fantastic. The only blemish on his night was a missed free throw with 42 seconds to play that could have tied the game before Middleton’s final basket in regulation. Such is life. Otherwise, Henson was Milwaukee’s only consistent finisher at the rim once again and a force as a rebounder. He stood up with the Gasols and Noahs of the world admirably and was clearly in a different class overall than Pachulia. Kudos to Kidd for finally riding with the lengthy big man for consistent minutes.

Jerryd Bayless, PG 15 MIN | 0-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 1 PTS | +14 +/-

Seemed to move the ball pretty well when he was in early on, but wasn’t able to help shake the Bucks free from the rut they were stuck in for most of the second half when he took over point guard duties from MCW. Kidd was quick to move past Bayless, which was probably the right move.

O.J. Mayo, SG 31 MIN | 4-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 8 PTS | +7 +/-

He didn’t contribute much before overtime, but he was Milwaukee’s most potent source of points in the first overtime. He got his jumper going and knocked down a few from mid-range. He had a look at a corner three that could have given the Bucks a three point lead with a minute to play and it went halfway down, but wouldn’t stay down. Aside from this brief stretch, again Mayo wasn’t very good.

Johnny O’Bryant III, PF DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | +/-

This tweet:

Jason Kidd
Chicago made 14-33 3FG, which makes sense, because they love to shoot threes and have some very competent shooters. Milwaukee refused to adjust its schemes and regularly had to dive out to address open shooters, often without success. Somehow, despite allowing hella open looks, the Bucks still very much had a chance to win this game. I don’t know what to make of it, but it seems like maybe the Bucks could have eased up on double teaming Pau Gasol every now and then and made sure the likes of Mike Dunleavy and Tony Snell didn’t have two seconds of freedom to line up threes.

Two Things We Saw (or One Thing I Saw and A Thought I’m Thinking)

  1. The Bucks once led by 18, as noted above. Those were good times. The crowd was rocking and Bulls fans were quiet. But Chicago kept chipping away and by the time this thing went into a second overtime, they had had just about enough of the Bucks being pesky. The defensive performance the Bulls put on in the second overtime was impressive. Here were Milwaukee’s first six offensive possessions in OT2:1: Turnover
    2: Turnover
    3: Missed jumper
    4: Missed jumper
    5: Turnover
    6: Turnover
  2. The Bucks are now down 3-0. The Bradley Center will surely be taken over by Bulls fans on Saturday. This season has been a pleasant surprise and Thursday night was certainly the most exciting game we’ve seen over its course. But all things must end and now is a fitting time to remember that this year was never about this year, but the ones that will follow it.

Categories: Playoff talk,Recaps

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8 Comments

  1. Game was exciting up until that second overtime when the game got away from them. Kidd letting these guys play to the bitter end was an experience that these guys deserved no matter the outcome. They worked hard this season and it has been most enjoyable.

    Looking forward to Saturday game and then next season. A lot to be optimistic about.

    Go Bucks!

    • Saturday will be fun, but I’m not looking forward to being outnumbered by Bulls fans. I’ve been thoroughly disappointed with Milwaukee and lack of local turnout, especially with the incredible deal we were offered with the “and 1” playoff package.

      • While it is frustrating had the bucks been matched up with anyone else I am confident the Bradley would still be sold out with Bucks fans. Chicago only being an hour away and Bucks games being much cheaper than Bulls home games results in the many Bulls fans. Also hey how awesome is it to be at an opposing teams turf when your team is the better of the two. I’ve personally been to Soldier Field and been one of the large number of Packer fans chanting “Go Pack Go!” over Bears fans. So yeah, it doesn’t just happen here.

  2. I can’t help but be frustrated with both Jason Kidd and Michael Carter-Williams in the second overtime. The reason the Bucks got back into the game in the first place was because of their ball movement, the willingness to share the basketball and look for easy opportunities for other guys. So why it suddenly once again devolved into MCW isolation basketball is… confusing, to say the least. He was either missing bad shots or turning it over down the stretch.

    I have to keep looking at it as valuable experience for a very young team. But Kidd has to take control in those situations and really kick the team in the ass in these instances.

    • Kidd does take a hands-off approach to a frustrating level. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for now, seeing as he’s pretty intuitive as to how an NBA player learns and develops. Maybe he thinks MCW needs to see these things himself. I think next year we might see him get into these guys a bit more, when everyone’s had an off season under his tutelage.

  3. Lotsa fun!!!

    Wonderful to see Khris growing his game by the game. Great acumen for the NBA, class, super competitiveness and court smarts, supreme selflessness, and a sweet jumper like an arrow in flight.

    After a tough game two against the Bulls, I enjoyed Giannis bouncing back bigtime and displaying his potential greatness in the first half, then watched him taking some more lumps with more learning experiences in the second half. Although his exuberance sometimes gets him in trouble, his impressive competitiveness, to go along with incredible skills, is a sign for great things to come. Also: Please, Giannis, keep striving to be a great person as well as a great player.

    Actually, for MCW, he kept it together really well in the first half as a pass-first point, then reverted back to pounding the ball and bad shots in the second, getting away from facilitating teammates. I do love his athleticism, and the way he does at time finish at the hoop, and sense that he has the passing skills for the point, but am not sure. If he does study D-Rose, maybe we have something in MCW, possibly something special.

    On the downside…

    Well, first of all, I did get a little validation from Grant Hill calling the game when he said that the Bucks trapping on defense was leaving the Bulls shooters open for good looks. Jeremy also addresses this under his comments for Jason Kidd when he says the Bucks refused to adjust on defense to cover these open shooters.

    Now, it seems like the Bulls have been knocking down threes all series, and I’m guessing it’s for the same reason of the Bucks not adjusting their trapping schemes in any of the three games — so what does that say about coach Kidd?

    Also, if it’s kudos to Kidd for letting John Henson finish a game — which by my count, is only the second time that that has happened all season — then what does it say about Kidd not playing John all that much in general all this season? After all, I think the Bucks were something like 8-2 in games that John started, but it was Zaza who finished almost all of those games? Then Zaza was moved back into the starting lineup, and John once again became an afterthought.

    Now that John has been playing awesome in the playoffs, and increasing his value around the league, why would he stay with the Bucks when he’s been largely downplayed for the past three seasons under four different coaches? Why would he be loyal to the Bucks when he saw how coach Drew was kicked to the curb after being told he had another season and participating in draft day, just a short time before he was fired — all in favor of bringing in a coach who was reneging on a contract with another team.

    I would love to see John stick with the Bucks long-term, even as a valued backup who consistently gets 24-30 minutes per game, but possibly as one of the better starting big men in the NBA. However, I hope he does what is best for him, which might mean telling the Bucks to stick it with a red hot poker. Plus, it’s not as though Miles Plumlee is likely thrilled about sticking around with the Bucks.

    It’s hard to appreciate the good while acknowledging the bad, to do a proper job of sifting, and keeping things in perspective. My effort here might be less than stellar, and maybe other fans can chip in their thoughts, perhaps remembering it’s a lot easier to criticize my opinions than it is to figure out what is right and what is wrong with the Bucks in good balance.

    Right now, the Bucks are a promising, somewhat exciting, but highly flawed team in the bottom half of the playoff seedings in the woefully weak Eastern Conference. Nothing is inevitable. I hope they surge forward in ensuing seasons, but they could just as easily fall back, or stay stagnant in mediocrity.

    Yes, a big part of this is the players, but my major concern is management. Having the discernment, making the distinctions, developing the decisions, for a winning future is a demanding and delicate task. Here’s hoping that our management, despite my considerable misgivings, comes through. Here’s wishing them the best, with a sincere prayer that they’ll up their games as much as any of the players.

    • Swisch, I am in love with this comment and insight. I’m in agreement MCW in the second half seemed to do a complete 180 from his first half performance and at times got a good bucket (hey if he’s making them on GOOD shots then I’ll stay quiet), but also had some forced sloppy takes that just weren’t what makes the Bucks successful. I think (hope) he can improve this offseason and become a good contributing high assist point guard for this team.

      John Henson was amazing wasn’t he? I really hope he doesn’t have any built up resentment like you mentioned and I hope Kidd has been using him off the bench this season as a way for him to watch, learn, then go in and apply his observations in the game. I think he should be used more and next year probably will be. The only thing I will say Zaza has that Henson doesn’t is that mid range free-throw line jumper. If Henson adds that to his game along with some drives from that high post if open (he’s done it a few times and one last game) he will do great in this offense.

      This leads me to giving Kidd the benefit of the doubt when handling Plumlee and Henson’s minutes. In his first year he has made the Bucks a competitive team who as shown with some of their success this year can run with anyone at times. The inexperience and youth shows, but as time goes on and more games under their belts I’m convinced these guys will keep getting better. The defense against guys who are hitting 3’s all day is a bit annoying and should be looked at. But as a player out there if you know that a guy like Dunleavy, Snell, or Butler is hot then they also should be mindful and adjust their help D in order to keep an eye on those guys and recover to contest their shooting. I think the coaching/management of this year alone for Milwaukee has been better than the last 4-8 and possibly beyond. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – As fans it’s our job to be critical. I’m excited for the coming years of this young promising looking team.

  4. Thanks, Saul, for the nice words. It’s good to get some positive feedback and agreement; it’s also good to get friendly disagreement. I’m really rooting for all the players and coaches and front office types. I’m really hoping our management shows the ways of excellence and character for our players by example as well as word.

    We all have our flaws and faults personally and professionally, so I don’t want to be too hard on anyone, as long as we’re all genuinely trying to improve in life in what we think and say and do. I think it’s good to be firm in setting high standards for ourselves and to some extent others — but also fair-minded and forgiving. If the Bucks sincerely try to do things the right way — if the process is good, as Jeremy might say — then the winning results should follow, and be truly lasting, with a team Bucks fans can be proud of on and off the court.

    Let’s hope the Bucks put up a good fight this evening, and go for the win for the sake of the team and the fans, plus making things more difficult for the Bulls, while toning down their fans.