|Ersan Ilyasova, PF 17 MIN | 3-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | -3 +/-
Just shoot the ball when you catch it, Ers. He’s feeling at least a little unsure of himself. It was obvious on one play in particular early in the second half. He caught the ball wide open from behind the arc and he took a dribble for a one step drive, even though no defender was near him. Mike Dunelavy eventually closed out and Ers got him in the air with a pump fake and drew a foul, but the play spoke to his uncertainty.
|Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF 26 MIN | 3-7 FG | 4-6 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -11 +/-
This was not superstar Giannis. But it wasn’t a terrible version of Giannis either. He had his moments – a pair of jumpers that helped Milwaukee go from down one to up three come to mind – but he was not the same impact player that almost propelled the Bucks to victory in game three. He’s still learning, still getting better. In time, the Dunleavys of the world aren’t going to give him the same amount of trouble and he’ll better be able to assert himself offensively when the Bucks need him. He wasn’t enough of a distraction for Joakim Noah on Saturday night, which is what led to more Jared Dudley than Giannis Antetokounmpo for what felt like the first time in forever.
|Zaza Pachulia, C 22 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 6 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | +9 +/-
He lived to deflect post entry passes on Saturday night. Three times he knocked away entry passes to Pau Gasol and made off with them. Once he poked one away before it could land in the hands of Noah. One of his steals led to a jumper for Giannis that led to the youngster pounding his chest and making his mean face, which delighted the crowd as much as the 3-point lead the Bucks ended up with after the shot.
|Michael Carter-Williams, PG 25 MIN | 4-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | -11 +/-
Early on he struggled to finish, only hitting a dunk, an open layup and one basket on a drive. He still doesn’t have a great feel around the rim. For whatever he’s struggled inside a lot more in Milwaukee than he did in Philly. I’ve been told that he may improve as he puts on more weight and can better absorb contact and that’s definitely a possibility. His development hasn’t been obvious this series, as he’s looked more like the March MCW (13.4 points and 5.5 assists per game) than the April MCW (16.9 points and 6.0 assists per game). Kidd opted to ride his bench to end this game, which left MCW on the bench for the entire fourth quarter.
|Khris Middleton, SG 46 MIN | 4-15 FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | +2 +/-
This was not the finest effort we’ve seen out of Khris Middleton on either end. When he was on Jimmy Butler, he had little for him, as has gone the series for Middleton. Offensively, he couldn’t quite find his stroke from deep and when he had opportunities from midrange or out of post-ups, he missed those too. His strip on the final Bulls possession led to Milwaukee’s win though, which was good to see. Earlier in the season Kidd mentioned that Middleton would occasionally get down on himself when he was shooting well. So to have him make a huge defensive play on a nigh in which he made just four of 15 shots and got torched regularly was awesome.
|Jared Dudley, SF 29 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | +12 +/-
From the three 3-pointers to the inbound pass that saved the Bucks season, it’s hard to ask for any more from Dudley. His presence was crucial in the way it often was in the first half of the season. When he’s a relevant shooter defenses have to respect him and Noah was often forced to come out on him in a way he doesn’t have to with Giannis.
|John Henson, C 26 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-2 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 4 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | -7 +/-
Henson wasn’t as sound a finisher – he was blocked by Derrick Rose at one point – but he was a game changer as a shot-blocker on Saturday. He had three blocks in the fourth quarter alone, with two of them coming on layups for Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol. He followed up the Gasol block by stripping him after he eventually got the ball back. Pahcuila racked up the steals, but it seemed like Henson was the bigger difference maker defensively once again.
|Jerryd Bayless, PG 25 MIN | 3-10 FG | 4-5 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | +6 +/-
As if I could give him any other grade on this night. Hey, he hit a game winning shot after a sick move that left Derrick Rose turned around and unsure if he was on offense or on defense. The final play was a clever move that required very good execution from both Bayless and Dudley. Reportedly, Bayless asked Dudley before the play, will you actually throw it to me? At which point Dudley replied: Everyone is live. Thank goodness Dudley had the courage to find Bayless.
Outside of that play, Bayless played a perfectly fine game for a backup guard. There was no noticeable drop in the offense when the bench unit came in at least in part because of his work. Plus Aaron Brooks tried to act silly at some point and Bayless wasn’t having any of it. He seems like a real life tough guy, someone who doesn’t start anything, but looks to finish it once it pops up. Kudos to him for that.
|O.J. Mayo, SG 24 MIN | 6-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 18 PTS | +13 +/-
This was the guy that averaged 15, three and three in the last month of the regular season. Mayo scored eight points in the fourth quarter and was more effective than he had been all series from behind the arc. 4-6 from three? Wow. And he actually hit one more, but the refs ruled it came after the shot clock. Milwaukee’s bench was the reason they won this game and Mayo was the bench’s focal point offensively. When he wasn’t making shots, he was moving the ball very well too, highlighted by a passed up three that led to him pump faking, taking a dribble and finding an open Jared Dudley for three in the opposite corner.
He’s stuck to his guns, for better or worse. Saturday night it was better. He’s still doubling Gasol just as often and he seemed to instruct Milwaukee to get even more aggressive with double teams on Jimmy Butler as the game went on after Butler’s 23 point first half. But the doubles resulted in more turnovers than they did open threes. When the Bucks are able to scramble up an offense and get out in transition after turnovers they’re a different team. That’s the team they were on Saturday. Shoutout to Kidd (or Joe Prunty, it’s unclear) for the final play of the game too.
Three Things We Saw
- Chicago turned the ball over 28 times on Saturday night! The Bucks scored 39 points off those turnovers and that’s probably why they won the game. Chicago shot better from the field, better from three and made only one less free throw. But if the Bucks are taking the ball away as often as they were on Saturday night, they could not care less about those things.
- Bucks bench back? Milwaukee’s bench outscored the Chicago bench 47-13. The three man group of Bayless-Mayo-Dudley was particularly effective, ending up +13 for the game. Lineups including that group went going 8-15 from three and shot and had as many steals as they had turnovers.
- I mean, that Bayless layup was crazy. He shook Derrick Rose so bad, Rose knew he was finished before Bayless even caught the ball. That completed a nightmare game for Rose, in which he had more turnovers (eight) than he did assists (six). Butler was a beast (30 points) and occasionally looked unstoppable, but Milwaukee’s defense did just enough on Saturday night. 3-1 Bulls. Another game on Monday. We’ll see where things go.