What last night lacked in entertaining basketball it made up for in black-and-blue, old school playoff flair. There were nearly as many technical fouls (7) as there were fast break points (8) in the game. A whopping 108 shots were missed. The first quarter set the tone for the mess that was about to ensue, and had the Bulls not pulled out a win, surely there would be hell to pay. So let's get right into it, here are some observations I'd like to share with you.
1) Jimmy Butler Is THE MAN
Our very own Ricky O'Donnell perfectly worded everything I had to say about Jimmy after last night. So real quickly, I'd like to touch on what is arguably Jimmy's best skill: his cutting:
What makes Jimmy such a special cutter is not just his innate timing, but rather his fearlessness of contact is what truly separates him. Every great cutter in this league can make a lightning quick move from a standstill, and Jimmy Butler is no exception to that. What Jimmy does above the rest is react to contact exceptionally well because he doesn't anticipate he'll get walloped. No, instead, Jimmy is one of the best in the league at instantaneously reacting -- some, like myself, would say Jimmy is a bit of a flopper -- to contact. But he's not a flopper in the way of a guy who preys on refs. He's a flopper in that he responds to contact the same way almost regardless of the hit he's taking. He's mastered the art of absorbing contact, and his mentality as well as his stocky size play as much a part in that as anything.
2) Here's What Bad Offense Looks Like
My man Kevin Ferrigan did an excellent job touching on this yesterday, but here's some pictures showing you how not to space the floor:
Never should I be able to digitally impose a line in the middle of a screen-shot and see that four offensive players are touching said line. Given, the wings (Butler and Derrick Rose) are in the process of better spacing the floor, but I just don't understand the offensive concept here. Joakim Noah is in zero position to harm the defense via dribble-drive. The goal, if not clear, is an attempt to post Pau Gasol, which we'll touch on more later. The weakside action of Rose and Mike Dunleavy doesn't confuse Milwaukee. And by the time it's all said and done, Noah is holding the ball with 10 seconds left on the shot clock with limited options. But wait, there's more:
No driving lanes at all for Rose here. Butler is left free, but even Rose's excellent vision becomes blurred once two trees -- John Henson and Giannis Antetokounmpo -- are glued to him.
And one last time. Although this lineup features Nikola Mirotic playing power forward, all five Milwaukee defenders are still way too close to one another. In other words, the Bulls weren't making it very hard for Milwaukee to play defense. That is, though, until the second half started.
3) Here's What Good Offense Looks Like
Driving lanes! (Notice where Pau is):
Actual space! (Notice where Pau is):
OH MY GOODNESS LOOK AT ALL THE OPEN AREA!
Yes, Jimmy Butler carried the Bulls in the second half, but they also spaced the floor worlds better, too.
4) The Greek Freak
Giannis Antetokounmpo, for much of these first two games, has looked like a 20-year-old that's still figuring out the game of basketball. And frankly, he's too rare an athlete to not figure it out one day. I have no worries in terms of his future. However, he's missed a bunch of shots at the rim (he's shot 3 of 12 on contested attempts according to SportVU playing tracking data) and here's something that really doesn't look good on the young phenom:
I mean, he's looking directly at John Henson here. The dude is open but Giannis fails to get him the ball. So, OK, maybe one time is an aberration, but...
Again, what is Giannis looking at? How can he not see Michael Carter-Williams here? The broadcast actually picked up Carter-Williams yelling out 'OH MY GOD!' in frustration after not receiving the pass for what would be a surefire layup. I don't want to be overly critical of Giannis because he's so freaking young, man. This kid has all the potential in the world and I think he'll come to realize most of it. But yeah, not a banner series for The Greek Freak thus far.
5) Game 1 Checkup
Briefly touching on a few things we saw in Game 1. Wrote about the ineffectiveness of dribble hand-offs yesterday, and yet here's the Bulls using a fake dribble hand-off to great effect because Niko Mirotic is a gifted talent:
And then to close us out, I think I'm going to have to dedicate a note on Derrick Rose's passing every single game from now on. HOW DOES HE FIND JIMMY BUTLER HERE? HOW!