Entering Thursday night, game 1 had been the only matchup in the first-round series between the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls that had the victorious team win by double-digits. Game 6 was definitely more than that.
Looking to become the fourth team to force a Game 7 after being down 0-3, the Bucks came up short and completely fell flat on their face at home Thursday night. The Bulls' five starters combined for a total of 81 points as Chicago took the series 4-2 and gave the Bucks their worst loss in franchise history. The Bulls will now advance to the second-round to face the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Here's what happened:
It was an absolute clinic in the first quarter after Chicago assisted on 11 of their 14 made baskets along with shooting 56 percent from the floor. Pau Gasol grabbed five rebounds and went 6-of-7 from the floor to lead the Bulls with 13 points as his team toppled the Bucks 34-14. The Bulls only managed to shoot 34 percent in Game 5, but things were much different early on considering the Bulls nailed seven of their first 10 baskets and hit four triples. Point guard Michael Carter-Williams left early in the game after taking this shot to the face from Mike Dunleavy. MCW returned near the end of the first after the Bucks said he had his lower jaw examined.
The Bulls extended their scorching start in the second by scoring seven straight early on and upping their lead to 23. Chicago ended up outscoring Milwaukee 31-17 in the second, highlighted by a 13-2 run that poured through the middle of the period. The Bucks ended the first half with just 13 made baskets, leading to only 33 points, which was one point off their franchise-low for fewest points in a half. In contrast, the Bulls grabbed 20 defensive rebounds, Dunleavy and Jimmy Butler each scored more points than that basket total, and Milwaukee had 10 turnovers. The Bucks' primary shooters consisting of Ersan Ilyasova, O.J. Mayo and Khris Middleton combined to go just 6-of-15 from the field. Every Bucks defensive rotation seemed to be late, leading to easy buckets left and right as Chicago worked the Bucks over from the opening tip.
Gasol was fairly quiet in the second for the Bulls while Derrick Rose scored seven points in the quarter and still moved the ball well in finishing with seven dimes as well. Dunleavy and Butler combined to score 20 points in the second for Chicago (11 for Dunleavy, nine for Butler) as the Bulls held an absurd 32-point lead going into the tunnels.
To put a final stamp on a rough half for Milwaukee, fans saw Giannis Antetokounmpo get ejected from an NBA game for the first time in his career. Giannis bump-tackled Dunleavy into front row seats on a made 3-point basket, and received a flagrant-2. (Here's maybe the reason why he chose to take a shot back at him.)
Tom Thibodeau still managed to play his starters for most of the third even with his team up 43, and the Bulls led by 39, 91-52 when the quarter was over. Kidd reached his breakpoint and inserted youngsters Tyler Ennis and Miles Plumlee near the end of the third, and ran with a lineup of Jerryd Bayless, Jorge Gutierrez, Ennis, Johnny O'Bryant and Plumlee for the remainder of the game. That didn't work either, as Chicago only further extended its lead and eventually closed the game out, 120-66.
- Was this the Bucks' worst performance of the year? I think you can make the case that it was. Not only did the Bucks' starters only combine for 29 points, but the team failed to make simple bounce passes and defend shots they knew were coming. Tonight's performance was something you expect in Game 1 of the preseason, not in Game 6 after their last two efforts.
- Ersan Ilyasova made just 20-of-61 baskets this series and hit just 32 percent of his shots. Yikes.
- Playoff John Henson didn't really add much tonight to stop Gasol and Joakim Noah inside. The Bulls scored 42 points near the rim while winning the rebound battle 50-41. Henson actually only played 14 minutes tonight and finished with just four points and two rebounds after a 14 rebound game on Monday.
- Zaza Pachulia led the Bucks in scoring. He had 8 points. That matched Chicago's 7th-leading scorer, Aaron Brooks.