The Bucks looked to emphatically answer any questions the Bulls posed in their Game 2 victory with a totally dominant Game 3 win at the Bulls home court. While Game 4, an early weekend tip-off, wasn’t quite the same demolition, Milwaukee’s formula to beat the Bulls continued in a win with a 119-95 final and a mostly noncompetitive 4th quarter that puts the Bulls deep in a 3-1 series hole.
Simply: the Bucks have Giannis and shooters, and the Bulls have neither. Giannis finished with 32 points on 11-22 shooting, 17 rebounds, and most impressively 7 assists as the Bulls tried to sell out and send more bodies at him.
Meanwhile, the Bulls star (lower case) trio did not have great games to compensate like in their lone series victory. Zach LaVine started the game hot with a 12-point first quarter to keep the Bulls close, but finished with 24 overall. LaVine did add 13 assists, but he just looks like he cannot elevate when getting inside.
DeRozan stayed in hell with the Bucks defensive attention very focused on him. He finished with 23 on an abysmal 8-20 shooting. Both he and LaVine did get to the line, but not until the 2nd half and already facing a 20+ point hole. I’ll give DeRozan credit in that he’s looked to step up his defensive intensity these playoffs...I mean, it’s mostly ‘falling on the ground’ defense, but that’s still more than what LaVine is giving on that end.
While it is an obvious deficit that the Bulls don’t have an MVP candidate, something more manageable would be better role players. But recent draft failures and an impotent trade deadline have left the Bulls an extremely shallow team when it comes to being ‘playoff ready’. In the first half as the Bucks steadily built a lead, the Bulls received disastrous on-court minutes from Coby White, Patrick Williams, and Tristan Thompson. It was so dire that it felt briefly promising when Derrick Jones finished a fast break (a very rare occurrence) and hit a single three. But ultimately, that faded too as his next possessions as the open man were a miss and a turnover.
Meanwhile, Grayson Allen came off the Bucks bench and provided his second straight scoring binge with 27 points, eclipsing the entirety of Chicago’s reserves. Bobby Portis had another fun day in Chicago hunting mismatches. Perhaps his development as a player means the Bulls really should stick with Coby White?
Either way, there was undoubtedly opportunity to try and add some veteran help this season and all the team came away with was Tristan Thompson, who has more turnovers, fouls, and ‘challenges ‘ to teammates than actual positive contributions this series. It stops being ‘veteran savvy’ when you are called for the fouls, ya know.
The Bulls did not completely roll over, at least? There was a huge scoring run in the 3rd quarter thanks to Ayo Dosunmu (who started the 2nd half after Alex Caruso concussed himself again - this may be a long-term issue with his playing style) and Williams actually taking and hitting open looks.
But while the Bulls got it to an 8 point deficit midway through that quarter, Giannis and Grayson responded.
This is unfair. Block, coast-to-coast, no-look corner pass right into the shooting pocket. pic.twitter.com/L2aMn5PsvO— Steph Noh (@StephNoh) April 24, 2022
Another Giannis-to-Allen three capped that third quarter with a effective-burial 16 point lead for the defending champs.
The Bucks, even without Khris Middleton, have just too much size and shooting and it is totally overwhelming the Bulls on both ends. They need flukey shooting performances (bad for them, good for us) to stay close, and it just didn’t happen in Chicago. It looks like both teams are strategizing to leave role players open, and while the Bucks team went 17-33 (51.5%) from distance, the Bulls shot 9-36 (25% - including 5/19 on corner attempts). I should mention the work done by Jrue Holiday, obviously far more than a ‘role player’, he hit 5-8 from distance to be Milwaukee’s 3rd leading scorer with 26 points.
Game 5, annoyingly, isn’t until Wednesday night. If the Bulls lose again their season is over.