Play was off: Bulls 103 – Bucks 91

Milwaukee Bucks 91 Final
Recap | Box Score
103 Chicago Bulls
Ersan Ilyasova, PF 32 MIN | 6-14 FG | 2-4 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 15 PTS | -13 +/-

I’m of the belief that Ersan is incredibly important to the Bucks this series. Specifically, his 3-point shooting is incredibly important. It’s no surprise to me that the Bucks hung around in the first quarter as Ersan went 3-5 from the field and 1-2 from three. He made just three shots the rest of the game and didn’t hit another three. Milwaukee needs first quarter Ers and rebounding Ers. He’s gotta be close to an 18-7 guy for the Bucks to really compete, with a few of those boards coming on the offensive glass.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF 33 MIN | 4-13 FG | 4-4 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | -10 +/-

He attempted only four shots in the second half, with two of them coming in the last few minutes of a game that was already decided. I don’t think anyone is expecting Giannis to come out and chuck up 20 shots, but it doesn’t feel like it’s in Milwaukee’s best interests for its most dynamic player to hardly be involved in the second half of a playoff game. I don’t know if this is on Giannis to get himself more involved or his teammates to find him or Kidd to orchestrate the whole thing, but Milwaukee needs more Giannis. We all need more.

Zaza Pachulia, C 22 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-2 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | 0 +/-

The 10 rebounds are a bit deceptive, as he grabbed four offensive rebounds on two possessions alone. Defensively, this wasn’t Zaza or any of Milwaukee’s big men’s finest night. They struggled to cut off driving lanes for Derrick Rose or deter him enough when he got to the rim.

Michael Carter-Williams, PG 34 MIN | 4-13 FG | 1-4 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 9 PTS | -7 +/-

His first half was effective, as he made 4-9 shots and scored nine points. It wasn’t perfect, but it was effective. His second half? Disastrous. He missed all four of his shots and chipped in just two assists. He failed to grab control of the game or create any easy shots for his teammates. Meanwhile, Derrick Rose led the Bulls in scoring and dished out some impressive assists. Oh, and he hit three threes. The gap between Rose and MCW was a chasm by the end of the night Saturday.

Khris Middleton, SG 34 MIN | 7-17 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 4 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 18 PTS | -2 +/-

Middleton was practically the only Buck to show life in the second half. He led the team with 13 points and attempted 12 shots, after taking just five in the first half. He looked best when catching and shooting or when coming off curls. More curls for Khris. More everything for Khris. He’s not going to be able to post-up as often this series with Mike Dunleavy Jr. defending him, but Milwaukee should absolutely make getting him the ball, either on the move or via passes into the corner, a priority.

Jared Dudley, SF 12 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -1 +/-

The Dudley we’ve seen too often over the second half of the season. His jumper wasn’t falling and he was a bad fit for an aggressive, big and strong Bulls front court. Realistically, the Bucks need at least one, but closer to two threes a game from him in whatever role he’s playing. The lack of shooting will kill them otherwise, especially if Chicago keeps hitting threes.

John Henson, C 26 MIN | 5-6 FG | 2-3 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 12 PTS | -12 +/-

Twice, the Bulls seemed to forget Henson was on the court, leading to one wide open dunk and one wide open layup. Outside of that, he was a bit better than Zaza at being present around the rim when Chicago was able to get in the paint, but he failed to block a shot for the first time in 12 games. Not that he didn’t give it his best though. A number of times he ended up out of position when attempting to sky for blocks and the Bulls capitalized on some of those instances by grabbing offensive rebounds. Overall, he was Milwaukee’s most active big, but they’ll need way more from him in game two.

Jerryd Bayless, PG 23 MIN | 4-7 FG | 3-4 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | -12 +/-

None of Milwaukee’s guards did a very good job of moving the ball or being creative to find teammates, Bayless included. He made one or two more shots than he’d been making of late, which was nice, but he’s still not getting great shots and hasn’t been the outside threat Milwaukee needs since the first half of the season.

O.J. Mayo, SG 24 MIN | 1-7 FG | 3-3 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -3 +/-

He averaged nearly 15 points on 51% shooting in April, practically carrying the Bucks bench to the finish line in the regular season. But those strong performances didn’t carry over into game one. He missed a number of open looks and struggled to serve as a spark when Milwaukee’s offense began to lag.

Four Things We Saw

  1. Jared Dudley talked about how much of a team effort it would take for Milwaukee before the series. The bench, the starters, everyone would need to chip in. That didn’t quite work out. Dudley and Mayo contributed little and while Henson and Bayless ended up in double figures, Milwaukee’s bench let the Bulls build a big lead to start the second. Of course, the starters weren’t much more effective in the second half, but that does harken back to Dudley’s point: Everyone will be needed.
  2. Milwaukee was a fantastic defensive team during the regular season. So allowing 60 first half points was quite a surprise. Fans expected this to be one of those, ground and pound, rebounds matter a lot, is anyone going to make a shot type of series, but Rose quickly altered that perception by slicing through the Bucks defense and finding open teammates who knocked down shots. If he’s as electric in game two and the Bucks still can’t contain him, Milwaukee will need to get to shooters quicker to limit their effectiveness as co-stars.
  3. Taj Gibson picked up a flagrant foul after elbowing OJ Mayo in the neck. It seemed there were at least some on social media who wanted him ejected, which surely the Bucks would have loved. He finished the game with 11 rebounds, seven on the offensive end and practically blew up Milwaukee’s small ball lineups all by himself. Rose is problem one, but don’t sleep on Gibson as someone Milwaukee needs to figure out as well.
  4. Jason Kidd lamented his team’s lack of ball movement after the game and the numbers pan out. The Bucks passed the ball 246 times, while the Bulls passed it 357 times. That’s a pretty big gap! This isn’t really relevant. It just speaks to the styles of the two teams. Milwaukee also had 100 less passes in a 95-91 victory on April 1. Carry on. Have a nice day. Enjoy the weather. Hug your family.

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