If Jason Kidd's Milwaukee Bucks club expected not to see the Derrick Rose that took home 2010-11 MVP honors, they were in for an unpleasant surprise Saturday night. In his first playoff game since April 28, 2012, Rose blazed and scored 23 points for the Bulls in their 103-91 Game 1 victory against the Bucks.
Except for three triples, the majority of Rose's baskets came from explosive drives to the rim and cuts inside to the hoop. Rose went on to score 10 points in the second as the Bulls amassed 30 points in each quarter to lead 60-51 at halftime.
His scoring ability continued in the third after he finished with 11 in the quarter, which included back-to-back triples.
"We have to live with that." Kidd said after the game. "That is better than him laying it up. He just got to the rim without resistance earlier in the game, and that fed his confidence."
"I'm grateful to be playing again, playing with my teammates." Rose said.
The Bucks and Bulls combined to shoot 24-for-41 in the first, with both teams shooting nicely above 50 percent respectively. But Kidd didn't find the high percentage as a positive for his team.
"The first quarter was fools gold for us. We are not an offensive team. That first quarter set a bad tone for us. We fell into a trap scoring in the first quarter. We thought we could outscore Chicago."
In what seemed to be an impressive matchup early on, the battle Michael Carter-Williams had with Rose eventually fell away as the game wore on. MCW exchanged baskets with Rose and had a solid nine points on 4-for-9 shooting in the first half, but ended up missing the rest of his four shots in the game while Rose's momentum continued to build inside the United Center.
On top of Rose, former Marquette star Jimmy Butler led the Bulls in scoring with 25 on 8-for-14 shooting while recording six assists. Chicago's backcourt combo combined for 48 points in addition to 13 from Aaron Brooks off the bench.
"Their backcourt was really big for them tonight. They have done that for them all season. We need to keep them in front of us and contest."
Milwaukee's starting lineup combined to go 15-for-43 in the third and fourth from the field on top of committing 14 personal fouls. Four of them came from Giannis and Zaza Pachulia respectively, and despite 12 points in 26 minutes from John Henson along with 11 from Jerryd Bayless, the Bucks' reserves as a group also came up short. Even after outscoring Chicago 31-30 in bench points, they'll need O.J. Mayo and Jared Dudley to not go a combined 2-for-11 if they want to even the series.
"Our bench as a whole did not shoot well after the first quarter. We had a chance to get the lead down and steal one here, but we didn't. We will just have to do that Monday."