After making the playoffs for the primary time in 5 seasons, the Chicago Bulls open the postseason in opposition to the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks.
Right here’s a take a look at how the 2 groups match up forward of Sport 1 on Sunday in Milwaukee.
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Matching up with the Bucks will intensify the undersized Bulls’ lack of muscle within the paint. The Bucks beginning lineup consists of 7-foot heart Brook Lopez and 6-foot-11 All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo, whereas the Bulls don’t have a 7-footer on the roster.
Middle Nikola Vučević will anchor the Bulls, however the workforce has been fielding smaller forwards resembling Javonte Inexperienced and Patrick Williams as a secondary bigs all season. Though coach Billy Donovan hasn’t dominated out taking part in Tristan Thompson in a dual-center lineup, Vučević and Williams probably would be the duo countering Lopez and Antetokounmpo.
Though each are extra agile than typical huge males, Antetokounmpo is the reigning Finals MVP and some of the adaptable gamers within the league. Even with out Lopez, Antetokounmpo can be a difficult matchup for the Bulls.
Neither workforce is in its finest defensive stride. The Bucks dropped to twentieth within the NBA (115.8 factors per recreation) after the All-Star break regardless of going 15-7 to shut the season. The Bulls had been simply behind, dropping to the sixth-worst protection within the league (117.9 factors per recreation) throughout a late-season skid.
Though the Bucks gave up the next quantity of factors on the finish of the season, they nonetheless present a menacing perimeter protection from guards Jrue Vacation and Wesley Matthews. Lopez provides one other layer to the inside protection, permitting the Bucks to dominate the rim and get rid of second-chance alternatives off the glass.
Alex Caruso’s again spasms create uncertainty for the Bulls’ main defender. Though Caruso mentioned he felt “as near 100% as I can” after a weeklong relaxation interval, the guard should take a look at that readiness within the sequence.
Though the Bulls don’t take many 3-pointers, long-range capturing might be a powerful level in opposition to the Bucks.
The Bulls held opponents to the fourth lowest 3-point capturing share (36.6% ) within the league. The Bucks couldn’t shake that development, averaging 32% from behind the arc in opposition to the Bulls within the common season.
The Bucks are the other, permitting the very best variety of 3-pointers within the league (14.5 baskets on 40.6 makes an attempt per recreation). Between shooters resembling Coby White and Zach LaVine, the Bulls may make the most of this benefit.
The Bucks returned eight members of their championship roster, together with 4 starters — Antetokounmpo, Vacation, Lopez and Khris Middleton. The result’s a cohesive workforce with well-established chemistry and intuitive information of how one can adapt and carry out within the postseason.
Compared, solely three gamers from the 2020-21 Bulls roster returned this season. The secondary lineup depends on three gamers who’re 22 or youthful — Ayo Dosunmu, Williams and White. The Bulls begin three All-Stars, however that is LaVine’s first postseason and the second for Nikola Vučević. Thompson and DeMar DeRozan are essentially the most skilled Bulls gamers within the playoffs, taking part in in additional than 140 postseason video games mixed.
The Bucks are additionally a extra skilled workforce in terms of head teaching. Mike Budenholzer has been with the Bucks since 2018, successful Coach of the 12 months for the second time in 2019 earlier than clinching an NBA championship final season. Budenholzer additionally gained Coach of the 12 months in 2015 with the Atlanta Hawks.
Donovan lifted the Bulls to a successful file and playoff berth in his second season with the workforce, however he hasn’t had the identical time or success in Chicago as Budenholzer in Milwaukee. Regardless of making the playoffs throughout all 5 seasons of his tenure with the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder, Donovan has made it out of the primary spherical solely as soon as.
The Bulls made main enhancements with this season’s roster — particularly by means of the acquisition of DeRozan and the event of Dosunmu — however the expertise and dimension of the Bucks can be too overwhelming for the Bulls to beat. Considerations about accidents to LaVine and Caruso solely furthers the drawback for the Bulls.
Bucks in 5
The Bucks’ depth and playoff expertise can be an excessive amount of for the Bulls to deal with. Vučević must have a giant sequence to enrich DeRozan and LaVine in the event that they’re going to have an opportunity at successful even two video games.
Bucks in 5