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Chicago Bulls vs. Milwaukee Bucks Game 2 preview and open thread

will the Bulls make this competitive again?

Chicago Bulls v Milwaukee Bucks - Game One Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The Bulls were surprisingly competitive in their Game 1 loss to the Bucks after going down by 16 points early. They battled back to lead by as many as five points in the third quarter but fell just short in the end, squandering a major opportunity in a game where the Bucks didn’t play well at all offensively outside of a few players.

Will that be the one chance the Bulls get to make this a series? Or will they truly make this competitive?

One thing the Bulls have going for them is it’s hard to see their three stars shooting collectively as poorly as they did in Game 1. Again, DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic combined to shoot 21-of-71 from the field and 4-of-22 from 3-point range. DeRozan was baffled by it and vowed that it won’t happen again.

While DeRozan’s playoff struggles are well-documented, I’m fairly confident he’ll do better than 6-of-25 in Game 2. If Vooch gets the same looks he did in Game 1, he should do better than 9-of-27. And, yes, he should keep launching 3s as long as they’re wide open. LaVine is a bit of a wild card because of his knee, but he missed his share of good looks as well.

The bottom line here is those guys have to be better, because I can’t fathom them playing that bad again. The numbers say they shouldn’t and that there should be some positive regression:

But they also need help, because 26 points from the rest of the roster isn’t going to cut it either. Neither is 7-of-37 3-point shooting.

This is especially true because the Bucks struggling offensively like they did in Game 1 is unlikely. The Bulls did do a good job of making the Bucks work, holding them to a slash line of 40.5/26.3/65.2 and forcing 21 turnovers. Forcing 20-plus turnovers again is a tall order, and Milwaukee’s 3-point shooters are due for a better night at home.

It’s also worth noting that the Bucks did destroy the Bulls when Giannis Antetokounmpo was on the court. The Greek Freak was a plus-19 in his 34 minutes, but he was limited to those 34 minutes because of foul trouble. The Bulls need to do their best to get Giannis in foul trouble again, and the best way to do that is by playing smart, disciplined defense and drawing charges.

Expect a more focused Bucks team in Game 2 after the Game 1 clunker. That means the Bulls will really have to be locked in to compete. They have played Milwaukee tight in three of five matchups this season, though the other two (the last two of the regular season) were especially ugly.

Injury Report: Lonzo Ball and Matt Thomas are once again the only Bulls listed. For the Bucks, George Hill is out again, while Bobby Portis and Jordan Nwora are probable. Portis is a new addition with a right calf contusion. The former Bull had 10 points and 12 rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench in Game 1.

Game Time: 8:30 p.m. CT (woof) on NBC Sports Chicago and TNT

Odds: Bulls improved a half-point from game one to be merely 10 point underdogs.

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