This was the performance I was hoping to see in Game 5. This one. Right here. Right from the opening tip, the Bulls came out and pummeled the young Bucks, who were shell-shocked several minutes in and couldn't recover as Chicago cruised to an easy 120-66 (!!!!!!!) Game 6 victory to set up a second-round date with the Cavaliers. The 54-point victory was the biggest in franchise history in a playoff game, beating out the 42-point demolition of the Jazz in the 1998 Finals.
The Bulls had gotten off to some slow starts in this series, but that wasn't the case on this night. Chicago scored the first eight points of the game, with Derrick Rose pushing the pace and creating open looks in transition. Rose assisted on the first three buckets of the game, and while he struggled with his shot to start the game, his ability to control tempo set the tone. The Bulls were zipping the ball all over the place, and Mike Dunleavy found his stroke after putting up a goose egg last game.
If Rose wasn't finding shooters and Dunleavy wasn't knocking down open jumpers, Pau Gasol was doing a bit of everything. Gasol was locked in, hitting jumpers, moving the ball, doing work on the glass and helping on defense. He was beat a few times in the post and was still a bit too complain-y, but I'll forgive him considering the production and energy he brought. He had 13 points in the first quarter as the Bulls ran out to a 34-16 lead after one.
Thibs changed up the rotations in this game, although not the way people may have hoped. Nikola Mirotic and Tony Snell stayed chained to the bench, while Kirk Hinrich got the nod over Snell. Kirk did his usual thing where he bricked open jumpers and passed up other shots, but he at least made some nice hustle plays on defense and wasn't a complete zero.
Rose started to find his shot in the second quarter, and the Bucks just couldn't do anything right. There were missed layups, horrible turnovers and just general incompetence. Milwaukee could barely execute simple basketball plays, and something else they couldn't do was grab any offensive rebounds on all the bricks, as they had just one in the first half.
The game really started to get ugly as the first half came to a close. O.J. Mayo picked up a technical and Giannis Antetokounmpo was tossed for bowling over Dunleavy after Mike hit yet another three:
The frustration was palpable for the Bucks, and it appears The Greek Freak's flagrant foul was retribution for Dunleavy giving him a little forearm on the other end. Or maybe it was a combination of that and Dunleavy drilling Michael Carter-Williams in the face earlier in the game. Either way, shady play by Giannis, and a rough way to end his season.
Speaking of Dunleavy ... 19 points in the first half on 5-of-6 shooting, which led to this:
Bulls 32 point advantage is their largest lead at halftime of a Playoff game in franchise history.— Jeff Mangurten (@JeffGurt) May 1, 2015
Not bad, huh?
The second half was just a formality. My mind wandered to Vinny's Bulls blowing that 35-point lead to the Kings all those years back, but that certainly wasn't going to happen here. It was then time to play the "When does Thibs pull the starters?" game, and by the time the Bulls went up FORTY THREE FREAKING POINTS with 6:58 left, that's when I was calling for the bench. Of course, that didn't happen, and Carter-Williams soon after delivered a cheap shot at Dunleavy, who apparently made himself quite a few enemies in this series.
Anyway, Dunleavy finished with 20 points to lead the way, while Gasol had 19 points and eight boards. Jimmy Butler had 16 points, five assists and four steals, and he still managed to play 32 minutes in a game that was never close. And Joakim Noah was on the floor for several minutes to start the fourth. Thibs!:
Maybe Thibodeau is just trying to ensure all 5 starters reach double figures.— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) May 1, 2015
Noah did reach double figures, by the way.
Meanwhile, Mr. Plays Much Better on Two or More Days of Rest had 15 points, seven assists and five rebounds while shooting 6-of-14 overall and 3-of-7 from three. He also only had two turnovers after 14 in the last two games, so that was nice. And by the way, Rose and Butler were a combined +87. I think that's good or something.
I don't really have much else to say about this one. It was just a good old fashioned ass whoopin' that was really nice to see. 13 players played and all 13 scored. Thibs is still a crazy person, but what are you gonna do. He's not changing. Bring on Cleveland and bring on the GIF PARTY!
What up, Bucks version Mike Dunleavy.