That must have been satisfying for the players, but probably nowhere near as satisfying as it was for Bucks fans who attended the game on Wednesday night and have been attending Bucks-Bulls games over the past five years. By “attending Bucks-Bulls games”, what I’m really saying is “sitting through Bucks losses while Bulls fans gloat about how superior their team and city is.” And that’s a lot for Bucks fans to have to sit through multiple times every season. Most of the players in Milwaukee have only been here for a year or two, but many Bucks fans have sat through a lot of losses to the Bulls over the past five years.
Each time the Bulls make the 90 mile trip up the Milwaukee, the Bradley Center is inundated with Bulls fans. “Let’s Go Bulls!” chants erupt from the crowd. Big plays made by the home team are greeted with boos. Visiting dunks trigger roaring ovations. All the while, those visiting fans beam with pride and look down upon their neighbors clad in red and green (for the time being). In their defense, it is a pretty cool feeling for a group of visiting fans to gain the vocal majority in an arena or stadium. I remember heading down to Wrigley Field on a few occasions over the past handful of years in which Brewers fans – while maybe not the actual majority – certainly had made their presence known.
Superior fan support is one of those nice fringe benefits to being a good team. Fans come out of the woodwork and they follow you wherever you go, especially if you go somewhere close and play a bad team without much support.
The tides are slowly turning though. As Bulls fans chanted and chanted at one point late in the fourth quarter, there was some pushback from Bucks fans, largely led by the team-funded cheering section. But these aren’t the Bad Bucks of last year and fans have ever so slowly begun to turn out here and there.
Support in Milwaukee seems to be on the rise, despite the Bucks recent struggles. But, while this second half hasn’t gone as well as the first, the Bucks gave the fans who came out on Wednesday night to support them plenty to cheer about.
Worth Noting (Grades aren’t working. Sorry gang.):
– Michael Carter-Williams scored 15 consecutive points in the second quarter. Over and over he posted up the 6-foot Aaron Brooks and over and over the Bulls declined to double team him. MCW probably posted up more in the second quarter than he did in his entire time as the point guard of the Sixers. Since joining the Bucks, he’s been an active post player, much like Kendall Marshall before him. The Bucks have identified his size as an asset for him and they’re looking to exploit it as often as possible. Wednesday was a success. MCW finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds and two assists.
– The Bucks made more threes, turned the ball over less and out-rebounded the Bulls. The last time they pulled off that trifecta was against the Cleveland Cavaliers on New Year’s Eve. Yet still this was an intensely competitive and close game.
Chicago had three chances to hit a three and tie the game with less than a minute to play, but failed to connect. Two looks – one from Nikola Mirotic and one from Mike Dunleavy Jr. – were fairly open shots, the kind of shots you assume are going down. But the Bucks were lucky in the last minute.
– The win wasn’t just luck though. Milwaukee made a couple of plays down the stretch that boosted that put them in position to win. First, a Pau Gasol missed free throw resulted in a loose ball rebound that went off the Bucks out of bounds. The Bulls were down one with 1:40 to play and possession. After Chicago inbounded the ball, Jimmy Butler found himself matched up with Ersan Ilyasova. He attempted to attack, but Ersan cut off his driving lane. E’twaun Moore then cut off the ball through the paint on a sleeping Giannis Antetokounmpo and received a Butler pass with an open lane to the basket. Fortunately for Giannis, he has the length to make up for a momentary lapse with ease. He blocked Moore’s layup in that crucial moment.
On the next possession Zaza Pachuila ended up with an open jumper from the elbow that he missed. But Ersan tipped in the offensive rebound to give the Bucks the lead in true Ersan fashion.
– The Bucks were hit with three technical fouls throughout the game. The first was on OJ Mayo, who was defending his teammate Ilyasova. Moments later Jason Kidd picked one up, picking up the conversation where Mayo left off. Later in the evening, Jerryd Bayless earned a T when he was called out of bounds trying to corral a loose ball. He felt like Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau impeded his progress and was very vocal about it.
Overall, it seemed like a tough night with the refs for the Bucks, making the win all the more impressive and even more sweet for the Bucks fans who were finally able to bid their neighbors to the South adieu with a win of their own to take home.