What to write about, what to write about...
The Bucks aren't dead yet. Tonight they pulled out a thrilling last-second 92-90 victory and avoided being swept by the Chicago Bulls. It was the Bucks' first win in a Game 4 when trailing 3-0 since 1984, and it has to feel good for a team that has fought exceptionally hard in the first three games of the series.
Milwaukee again saw themselves up by double digits in the first half behind stifling defense and strong contributions from their bench. O.J. Mayo and Jared Dudley combined for 19 points in the first half on 5-7 shooting from three, while the Bucks defense also forced 13 Bulls turnovers in the half. Still, that wasn't enough to head into the half with lead. Jimmy Butler banked in a three at the buzzer, three of his 23 points in the first half and the game was tied. It was all too familiar and dispiriting.
The second half was mostly a back-and-forth affair, with neither team really separating themselves until Milwaukee went back to their bench. O.J. Mayo again provided a lift, making two straight buckets that gave Milwaukee a little bit of a cushion in the fourth. The odd lineup of Mayo/Bayless/Middleton/Dudley/Henson was proving to be effective against whatever lineup the Bulls threw out there, so Jason Kidd decided to stick with them going down the stretch.
And it worked.
The offense flowed better than it had for a better portion of the game, and the defense was as feisty as ever. John Henson was particularly huge with two of his four blocks coming late in critical moments.
The Bulls still had Derrick Rose however, and he continued to make plays for them going down the stretch. Threes, layups, whatever. After starting 1/8 from the field, Rose finished with 14p/6a/5r. On his final possession with the game tied though, he met a wall of Bucks arms, and was eventually stripped by Khris Middleton. Jason Kidd smartly called a timeout amidst the frenzy, and it set up this:
Bingo. On to Game 5.
-- I can't feel my face.
-- The Bucks had 20 steals in today's game, becoming just the second team in the last 30 years to post 20+ steals in a playoff game. It's the Bucks' fourth consecutive game with double-digit steals.
-- John Henson is the first Bucks player with 4+ blocks in a playoff game since Joe Smith in 2004.
-- This win was the Bucks' first postseason victory in 10 tries, dating back to the Game 5 win over Atlanta in 2010.
-- The Bucks' bench outscored the Bulls' bench 47-13. Coach Kidd had praise for them after the game.
Kidd on the bench: That group plays fearless. They enjoy playing with one another, making plays. They helped us win.— Aron Yohannes (@AronYohannes) April 26, 2015
Kidd: This is who we are. Our bench was a big part of our success, That group was going, and we were going to ride them.— Aron Yohannes (@AronYohannes) April 26, 2015
-- Zaza Pachulia had 6 of those 20 steals. Let that sink in. How great is that?
-- Giannis was mostly quiet in Game 4, pitching in 10p/8r on 3-7 shooting in 26 minutes. Neither him or MCW played much down the stretch, but I think this is one instance where folks can be okay with that. On the plus side, he hit a pair of big jumpers in the third quarter to help the Bucks hang with the Bulls, firing up the crowd in the process.
Game 5 is Monday at 7. Can they keep the ball rolling?