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Bucks simply will not die

The Bulls lost their second straight to the Bucks, who extended the series to Game 6 with a 94-88 win in Chicago.

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The Bulls failed to knock the Bucks out of the 2015 NBA Playoffs once again. After winning the first three games of this first round series, they lost 92-90 in Game 4 on the road; then, followed that up with a 94-88 loss at the United Center.

Chicago still leads the series 3-2, but the icepack for this pain in the ass needs re-cooling.

There was not much that went very well for the Bulls. Officiating was definitely in their favor. 29 trips to the free throw line and a sub-par Bucks offense made this game deceptively close.

But the reality is that the Bulls were dominated. They shot terribly across the board. Less than 35% from the field and under 20% on threes for a .367 eFG%--the eighth-worst shooting performance for the Bulls in a three-point era playoff game. Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler led the way again, as they have all series, but it was for all of the wrong reasons, this time around.

  • Game 5 was a night to forget for the Bulls backcourt. Rose had only 13 points on 5-for-20 shooting and six turnovers. Butler wasn't much better, scoring 20 on 5-for-21, most embarrassment saved by a crafty 8-for-9 night at the line.

  • Bulls had five buckets in the third quarter. FIVE!! They shot a .266 eFG% in the second half.

  • Michael Carter-Williams was the hero for the Bucks on the night. The youngster slashed his way through some of the worst help efforts you can see in the NBA for 22 points on 10-for-15 from the floor. He moved the ball well when he saw a wall for nine assists and grabbed eight rebounds. He missed some minutes after rolling his ankle, but returned and played through pain.

    MCW isn't all that good, but he is long and aggressive. He requires putting 120% into a game for a respectable performance, but it looks like something special when it's out there. He deserves to take a lot of pride in this one and Jason Kidd has something to show the developing point guard when he has his lulls in the future.

  • Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah were actually bright spots. Gasol was a go-to guy inside in a game where the Bulls really struggled to move to create shots off the ball. He led all scorers with 25 on 9-for 15 shooting and a 7-for-9 night from the line. Noah led the Bulls with 13 boards to go with his ten points and showed flashes of effectively aggressive defense.

  • Rotations were weird. Noah and Taj Gibson started the fourth quarter, but midway through, Tom Thibodeau went with the Gasol-Nikola Mirotic pairing. The Bulls got within three, but the spacing was passive and the defense was non-existent, so blowing that chance to take a lead was inevitable.

  • Mirotic looks bad. The arc on his shot looks flatter, but his defense is really where he's hurting the eyes. Neither of these are so much related to the leg soreness suffered in Game 2, of which we may not know, so much as the overwhelming feeling that Niko is a bit lost. His help is so passive-aggressive that you can't even call it a hedge. He shows hard and bails after the ball handler has passed the primary defender. At first, it seemed indecisive, but the pattern displays a complete lack of recognition. And that's between the ears.

  • Speaking of which, someone put out an Amber Alert for Mike Dunleavy, Jr. Only 21 minutes, where he had more fouls (four) than shots (three). In crunch time, when the Bulls were desperate for offense, Tony Snell and Niko were out there, but no Dun. A grind-out game gives less margin of error on defense, but Dun has had a solid series defending the wings; also, a grind-out game requires ball handlers to have outs when the defense breaks the play. This is how the Bulls were demoralizing the Bucks D earlier in the series. Odd time to abandon that.

  • There were Giannis Antetokounmpo sightings! He finished some nice drives, but the Bulls are continuing to throw bodies at him and make life difficult. Meanwhile, for all of the Bulls turnovers in this series, they are making a conscious effort to not put Giannis in situations to make defensive plays with his length.

  • O.J. Mayo grabbed his nuts to booing fans. His whole villain thing was old before it started. He can get buckets once in a while, but he isn't scrappy enough to be a legit villain. Fail.

  • Gasol is the fourth player to have five consecutive double-doubles in the playoffs. I don't really know what that means or why "double-doubles" are a thing, but if it gives you warm fuzzies, here you go.

  • This is only the second time that a Bulls team has started a series with a 3-0 lead and gone to a Game 6. The other time was the 1996 NBA Finals (h/t: Jeff Mangurten), so I figured I would post one of my favorite Dennis Rodman performances for your viewing pleasure:

The viewing frustration is heating up the water. Boiling point is still far away, but the Bulls have bigger fish to fry after this series.

Even without Kevin Love and J.R. Smith, the Cavaliers are far better than the Bucks; and LeBron James at his worst is more than MCW at his best. The Bulls are abandoning the great ball movement and spacing that they rode hard in most of their wins this season. No matter what opportunities are presented by the bad luck of others, success is difficult to find without the awareness and repetition of successful methods.

Worse, they aren't making the second efforts, let alone the thirds, on the defensive end to disrupt possessions:

And the best player in the world with exploit the hell out of that.

Stats via