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Chicago Bull vs. Milwaukee Bucks Game 4 preview and open thread

Can Chicago tie up the series at two games apiece?

2022 NBA Playoffs - Milwaukee Bucks v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images

After grabbing a stunning win on the road in Game Two, the Chicago Bulls were sent back down to earth in a hurry during Game Three. They scored just 17 points in the first quarter, were down by 19 at halftime, and didn’t play their starters in the fourth en route to a 111-81 defeat.

Like after Game One, we are left wondering if Chicago’s stars will do better on offense. DeMar DeRozan struggled from the field in Game Three, shooting just four of nine from the field with 11 points. Milwaukee made a huge effort to force him left all game and each time he did, it was into a double team. Getting the ball out of his hands and pushing him from the mid-range seems to be a priority for this Bucks defense. This means it’s now on the rest of the Bulls to help out their teammate and put themselves in advantageous positions on offense. Chicago did share the basketball with 22 assists in Game Three but they only had 33 makes from the field.

Nikola Vucevic was one of the few Bulls to have even remotely close to a decent night with 19 points on eight of 17 shooting from the field. The key statistic, however, is his shooting from downtown. He went three of nine from three-point range after hitting his first handful fo attempts. Milwaukee has stepped up the pressure and aren’t letting him pop out to the three-point line with ease. He’s going to have to continue to stretch the floor while also finding ways to attack the Bucks off the dribble.

Zach LaVine continues to struggle to consistently score in this series, finishing with just 15 points on six of 13 shooting. He did have five assists and rebounds too but looked out of sorts on offense at times. Like with DeRozan, the Bucks perimeter defense made it their priority to stifle him. There were no easy baskets for Chicago’s scoring duo and now it’s time for them to make adjustments. Otherwise, it could spell disaster for the Bulls offense.

There was also a concerning moment with LaVine as he was seeing limping during the second half. When asked about it in the postgame press conference, he gave a very candid response.

The three-point shooting, which gave Chicago a huge boost in Game Two, wasn’t there in Game Three either. The Bulls shot a whopping 26.5 percent from deep as Alex Caruso and Vucevic are the only players to hit more than two three’s. Coby White went one of six while Ayo Dosunmu and Patrick Williams went a combined zero of seven. This can’t happen for Chicago if they want to match the Bucks offensively. The three-pointer is a team’s greatest equalizer but if the Bulls are cold from deep, it’s going to cause a lot of problems. It’s going to force them into taking worse shots and also have them in offensive droughts, which Milwaukee will sure to take advantage of.

Chicago is also going to have to do a better job with defensive rotations in Game Four as the Bucks passed out of the double teams with ease to open shooters all night in Game Three. They hit 15 of their 41 attempts from three which is a big reason as to why they played so well offensively despite getting only 18 points from Giannis. They will also have to work on containing Jrue Holiday, who bounced back after two rough performances with 16 points, six assists, and six rebounds. With Khris Middleton out, he stepped up and gave Chicago headaches on both ends of the court.

This is do or die time for Chicago, going back to Milwaukee down 3-1 spells almost certain doom. If the Bulls want to extend this series to six games and come back to the United Center for one more clash, they are going to have to clobber up a Herculean effort in Game Four.

Injury Report: Other than Lonzo Ball and Matt Thomas, there are no injuries listed for Chicago.

As for Milwaukee, George Hill (Abdominal Strain) and Luca Vildoza (Non-COVID illness) are the only other non-Middleton names on the report.

Odds: Milwaukee is a 4.5 point favorite in this game, moving half a point since opening. The total is also set at 219.

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