After a tremendous effort which resulted in a road win in Game Two, the Chicago Bulls had a chance to take a 2-1 series on their home court. What took place instead was a thrashing at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Chicago started out of the gates cold and quickly found themselves down double digits fast. The wheels quickly fell off and it became quickly apparent this was going to be another blowout. In the end, it was a 30 point drubbing as the series heads to Game Four on Sunday.
But first let’s look at some takeaways from a rough night at the United Center.
Entire Offense Thrown Out of Sync
The Bulls only scored 81 points in Game Three and failed to score more than twenty points in three of the four quarters. Credit should go to the Milwaukee defense, as they had a clear gameplan for both DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine. Jrue Holiday and Wes Matthews got into their air space and the space which Chicago created for jump shots were not there. The Bucks packed the paint so they can easily help out in the mid-range so neither of Chicago’s two best players could get a clean shot off from that range.
DeRozan went four of nine from the field for 11 points. It was a rough display of not only shooting but seeing the lack of attempts from DeRozan was troubling. DeRozan was completely thrown out of rhythm, as the Bucks defense was forcing DeRozan to go left all night and each time he did he was encountered by at least one help defender.
LaVine wasn’t much better, going 6 of 13 for fifteen points. It’s evident that the knee still seems to be bothering him and it’s affecting his play in this series. He’s overall struggled so far in these three games and if Chicago wants to have a chance in Game Four, he will have to step up, especially if the shots aren’t falling for DeRozan.
Bulls having such a hard time attacking the paint because of how well the Bucks guards are pressing Zach and DeMar.— Will Gottlieb (@wontgottlieb) April 23, 2022
Then you have Giannis waiting to pounce if they are able to get through.
Bulls have to space them out a bit more and draw Giannis away from the rim pic.twitter.com/OGu8gF5MRj
This game was a clear indication of what adjustments the Bucks made in order to slow down the Bulls offense. Now it’s up to Chicago to see if they have any counters in terms of what schemes/sets they can draw up to get their best players the ball and where they aren’t hounded by Bucks guards.
It didn’t help matters that the bench unit for the Bulls had yet another dismal output. While the box score indicates they scored 26, 21 of those points came in the fourth quarter with the game already decided. While the Bucks had multiple role players with big offensive performances, the Bulls only had 2 players score over 15 points in LaVine and Vucevic.
Three-Point Shots Were Not Falling
Part of the Bulls problem in this game happened from the three-point line. After shooting 12 of 25 in Game Two, Chicago shot nine of 34 from downtown. While you like to see the Bulls shoot 3’s whenever available to them, they actually have to knock down these attempts. Alex Caruso was the most efficient Bull on the night from deep, hitting three of his five attempts. Vucevic hit his first three attempts but then missed his next six shots from that range. Coby White, who is one of Chicago’s better three point shooters, went one of six.
Again, Milwaukee’s defensive plan allowed this to happen as they packed the paint and forced kick-outs to the perimeter. They forced a team which doesn’t make a lot of these shots to hit them and Chicago simply didn’t. If the Bulls want to at least match Milwaukee offensively, they have to knock down the three. That will at least allow Chicago to slow down runs and make for a more efficient offensive night. If not, things could get ugly in a hurry if the Bucks hit a groove offensively.
Not Closing Out to Milwaukee’s Shooters
With Khris Middleton out for Game Three, Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer made a switch to the starting lineup by inserting in former Bull Bobby Portis to make a ‘jumbo’ formation. Portis made an instant impact by scoring 8 points in the first quarter and where he especially hurt Chicago was from deep.
To make matters worse, Grayson Allen was absolutely lethal from downtown as well. He had 9 in that opening quarter and both finished with huge scoring lines:
Bobby & Grayson came up HUGE for the @Bucks in their Game 3 win!@BPortistime dropped a double-double and hit 4 three-pointers.— NBA (@NBA) April 23, 2022
(18 PTS, 16 REB, 4 3PM)@GraysonJAllen led the Bucks in scoring while draining 5 three-pointers.
(22 PTS, 6 REB, 5 3PM) pic.twitter.com/qCw6XdFXre
Part of the reason of this is the Bulls gameplan to double Giannis and at times, Holiday. This forces Chicago rotate almost perfectly, and any hesitation and it’s an open three for Milwaukee. We saw in the first two games that the Bulls are capable of running shooters off the three-point line if the rotations are crisp, but they weren’t in Game Three and Chicago paid for it dearly.
Portis and Allen were the only two Bucks to hit more than two shots from downtown but that was more than enough. One of the more worrying things is that Milwaukee’s other shooters such as Wes Matthews, Brook Lopez, and Jrue Holiday, went a combined 3 of 10. They could shoot much better in Game Four and Chicago has to do their best to stop these three point attempts otherwise it’s going to be another long day at the United Center.