After dropping game two to The Chicago Bulls, The Milwaukee Bucks bounced back with a statement win on Friday. The win gives the Bucks a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference First Round. Let’s take a look back at the convincing 111-81 blowout win.
A Strong Start
Chicago were playing in their first home playoff game since 2017. Coach Budenholzer and his coaching staff knew that a strong start would go a long way to silencing the boisterous home crowd. The “Let’s Go Bulls” chants didn’t last long as the Bucks raced out to a 33-17 point lead after 12 minutes.
Whilst it may have alarmed Bucks fans and staff alike that Giannis only scored two points in the first quarter, those fears disappeared when the supporting cast stepped up early.
Chicago’s favourite Buck, Grayson Allen, found a way to smile and ignore the haters and their boo’s. Grayson came off the bench and hit back to back to back threes and had 14 points in the first half. Bobby “Goggles” Portis also found his groove early, scoring a handful of points in quick succession.
Giannis Antetokounmpo made up for a slower than usual start with a 13-0 run in the second quarter. Giannis hit a lovely 19 footer and followed that up with one of his infamous dunks.
By the half, the defending champions had themselves a big lead, up 19 points and looked in full control. At one point in the second quarter, Milwaukee led by 24 points and it was clear that the team had rolled into Chicago on a steamroller with a point to prove.
It’s no secret that the Bucks aren’t the greatest third quarter team, in fact they love a third period collapse. Fans would be well within their rights to have been uneasy at a 19 point lead.
I’m not sure what Coach Bud and the coaching staff said during half time but I can only imagine it went along the lines of “All gas baby, no brakes. Let’s smash them” or something to that effect. No only did the Bucks improve on their half time lead but they won the quarter by 12 points and for the second time in the game, kept the Bulls’ scoring below 20 points for a quarter.
I won’t lie, by this point as it approached 3am in the UK, I felt relaxed for the first time in the series and I enjoyed the fourth quarter as Bud gave the bench their time to shine.
The Bucks played the final 8 minutes with a lineup of Serge Ibaka, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Jordan Nwora, Rayjon Tucker and new boy Luca Vildoza. The 5 of them clearly enjoyed themselves and balled out. Thanasis threw down some dunks and Luca Vildoza instantly became a fan favourite with his ball handling. See below for the assist of the night, if not the first round.
Get Thanasty with it!! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/lw0Rl1JIK3
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) April 23, 2022
Life Without Khris
There was a lot of chatter before this game after it was announced that Khris Middleton would be out for the rest of the First Round. Fans took to social media to voice their opinions on how the rest of the roster would need to step up in his absence. Thankfully… they did and they did it well.
Whilst superstar Giannis nearly had a triple double for the second game in a row with 18 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds, It was Grayson Allen who really settle game on fire from the bench. Grayson finished with a game high (and career playoff high) 22 points and scored 5 of the 7 three pointers that he attempted. Bobby Goggles added a solid 18 points and an outstanding 16 rebounds including 13 defensive rebounds. Jrue added 16 points and looked more like himself going forward.
Defensively the Bucks looked like the team we all know and love. After going for a career high 41 points in game 2, DeMar DeRozan was frozen out in this one with only 11 points on 4-9 shooting. DeRozan had a +/- of -23, the worst +/- of the game. Wes Matthews who was given the start again for Milwaukee, proved his worth tying up DeRozan and extinguishing that hot shooting hand that he had from game two.
Nikola Vucevic led all Chicago Bulls scorers with 19. However, it was clear yet again that the Bucks had been watching film from game two and learnt how to slow down Vuc’s offence.
Overall, the Milwaukee defence successfully kept Chicago’s shooting below 40% and three point shooting to 26%. A vast improvement on 49% and 48% respectively in game two on Wednesday night.
This was a much better and more enjoyable performance from the NBA Champions. Yes, all blow-out wins are nice and put a smile on your face but this seemed needed for Milwaukee. After two below par performances at home, this was a much needed confidence boost for the players and fans alike. We’ve shown Chicago what we’re made of and regained home court advantage in the series. Maybe that unexpected loss on Wednesday was exactly what we needed.
Game 4 is at the United Centre on Sunday at 1pm ET (6PM UK).
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