What. A. Game. This was a crazy go round, in a lot of ways. The Bulls looked like they were going to get blown off the floor early in the second quarter, following a 22-4 run by Milwaukee, but quickly raced back to draw to a just 4 point deficit at the half. Chicago then grabbed a 3 point lead at the end of the third quarter and the lead was all the way up to 10 points with less than 3 minutes to go. Somehow, on the back of some timely shot-making from Khris Middleton and an untimely missed free throw from Rose after Giannis Antetokounmpo cross body blocked him to the floor, the Bucks managed to tie it up at the close of regulation. After two overtimes, Chicago finally was able to pull away and put the Bucks away.
In a nod to the great Zach Lowe, here are 10 things I liked and didn't like from tonight's game:
1. D-ROSE BACK
D-Rose, playoffs splits. D-ROOOOSSSEEE pic.twitter.com/U7BQB7xphn— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) April 24, 2015
Obviously, this was the most important thing to come out of this game. Rose had a great game 1, a solid, if low scoring game 2, but this was superstar Rose doing superstar things. Anyone that thought the Bulls might be better with Aaron freaking Brooks running things (no offense to Brooks, he's very solid at what he does, but come on) needs to bury that idea once and for all. Rose was hitting his 3 pointers-- it helped that he was shooting them in rhythm on catch and shoot opportunities-- and he was getting into the lane whenever he wanted. He also played 48 minutes, owing to the double overtime, and didn't seem winded at all. Impressive stuff for a guy in just his 8th game back from meniscus surgery.
2. Tony Snell clapping for the ball
Tony Snell was hitting shots all over the place for a stretch of this game and it was awesome. He poured in 16 points on 9 shots. Even more fun, to me, was seeing Snell clapping for the ball when he was open. He was wide open at one point after hitting several shots already and Rose didn't see him right away and Tony was clapping and then visibly frustrated that he didn't get the ball. Tony came into the league as such a quiet, unassuming guy, so to see him demanding the ball in a big moment of a playoff game was great.
3. Joakim Noah still not being anywhere close to right
Joakim Noah played almost 46 minutes and scored 2 points on 1-5 shooting. He was rejected badly by Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim on a dunk attempt. He made several horrid, wild passes after getting himself stuck and falling out of bounds underneath the hoop. Any time the Bulls let him touch the ball, bad things seemed to happen for them. Noah was still active on the boards, grabbing 12 of them, but given his minutes, even that level of rebounding isn't quite what the raw totals suggest.
4. Joakim Noah still the TROLL GAWD
Late in the game, when it was getting pretty clear the Bulls were going to hold onto the win, Giannis attempted to drive to the bucket and Joakim just humiliated him by ripping the ball right out of his hands. He then proceeded to let him know about it.
So good. Even if he is a shell of himself, I will never not love Joakim Noah.
5. Jimmy Butler's "Dropped Pick-Six" Run
Shout out to Trenton Jocz for putting his finger exactly on what this little diddy from Jimmy looked like. Jimmy broke on a pass and nearly had a steal for a breakaway but lost it out of bounds. He then high stepped his way down the court, like so:
Jimmy could taste the end-zone I'm pretty sure.
6. The Pau-Noah lineup still being a thing
With no Nikola Mirotic for this one, the Bulls seemingly didn't have much choice about rolling out the zero-spacing frontcourt of Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah. On the other hand, with both Mike Dunleavy and Tony Snell playing and shooting well and the Bucks not having the personnel to hurt you with post-ups from the 4 spot, it would have been a nice thing to try to run Dunleavy out as a small-ball power forward to open up some spacing for Rose and Butler drives. Derrick was still getting whatever he wanted for the most part, but he was often driving into a pretty clogged lane. The Bulls' offense just flows so much better when they have a floor-spacer in that spot. Ah well.
7. The Bulls' offensive lulls
That 22-4 run by the Bucks I mentioned earlier was almost entirely because the Bulls were running out a terrible offensive unit. It was Brooks, Hinrich, Snell, Joakim, and Taj. With only 2 shooters in Brooks and Snell, things got stagnant really quickly and that lead to a lot of run outs and easy transition points for the Bucks. Too often, still, the offense gets stagnant with post-ups or a lot of isolation dribbling without weakside man movement and swinging the ball side to side, as Thibs likes to say. Chicago has got to get more consistent about making quick decisions with the ball and not letting it stick. More than that, the off-ball movement has to be more consistent and purposeful. Crisp, quick cuts and solid screens attract defensive attention that opens things up everywhere.
8. The Bulls' offense when it's cooking
On the flip side, which also makes the Bulls' random runs of stagnation more frustrating, is that when the Bulls do make quick decisions, they have a lot of talent and can really get the ball humming around the court and find open looks from high value spots on the floor. The Bucks run a super aggressive defensive scheme, as has been pointed out by others around these parts and elsewhere. What the Bucks' aggressiveness opens up for the Bulls is the opportunity to zip the ball around until they find an open shot. This sort of ping-ping passing is what got Snell so many open looks from behind the arc tonight as the Bucks couldn't keep up with the ball after they tried to do their aggressive, trapping defensive shtick.
9. Jimmy Butler jumping out of the god damned gym
10. SERIOUSLY D-ROSE BACK
Yeah, it was already thing number 1, but I don't care. This really deserves all the attention. Rose was making highlight plays all over.
D-Rose had this message for his haters and doubters (probably):
Other things I didn't like that didn't make the list: John Henson feeling like he was everywhere as he grabbed 14 boards and blocked 3 shots and effected many more. Henson reminds me of Tristan Thompson in the way he attacks the glass, so that's a concern for the next round. Henson's a better rim protector than Thompson, though, so at least the Bulls won't have to worry about that against the Cavaliers (Timofey Mozgov is another story).
Other things I liked: Mike Dunleavy playing well, the Bucks fans teasing Pau by chanting "Marc is better" which felt very much like a pro wrestling chant to me, Pau having a very good all around game and Derrick Rose's pick and roll numbers for this series.
Good win to get, let's hope the Bulls can get out the brooms and complete the sweep, as the Cavaliers have their boots on the Celtics' necks, after also going up 3-0 in their series.