The Bulls opened the 2015 NBA playoffs in just about the perfect way on Saturday. Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler had big games, the three-pointers were falling and Milwaukee looked incapable of consistently scoring against the Bulls' defense in the half court. It was only one game, but it couldn't have gone much better. On Monday night, the Bulls will look to push the series to 2-0 by defending the United Center vs. the Bucks yet again.
The spotlight is going to be on Derrick Rose once again. Rose was tremendous in Game 1, finishing with 23 points and seven assists on 9-of-16 shooting and just maybe giving off the illusion he was taking it easy during the regular season. As has been the case for most of this season, Rose is simply a different player when he's attacking the basket the way he was on Saturday. If he stays aggressive, it doesn't seem like there's a player on Milwaukee's roster who can check him 1-on-1.
It was great to see Butler locked in, too. Butler just led the league in minutes per game (two minutes per game more than second place James Harden), drew the sixth most free throws per game in the league and sustained an assortment of nagging injuries throughout the season. Needless to say, there's at least some concern Butler could be less than 100 percent for the playoffs, but he looked like a tank in Game 1, beating Milwaukee defenders off cuts and finishing strong at the rim.
Hinrich is out vs. Bucks.— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) April 20, 2015
I had some friends over on Saturday and as they came over individually, every single one of them joyfully mentioned Hinrich not playing as a positive. I was just out to lunch when my buddy looked at his phone and announced Hinrich was out again. Similar reaction. Take some time off, Kirk. The Bulls need to get Tony Snell ready to give them quality minutes defending J.R. Smith anyway.
Game 2 kicks off at 7 p.m. local time. Let's do this.