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Milwaukee vs. Chicago Game 2: Bulls Even Things Up, 114-110

The series is now tied one game apiece

NBA: Playoffs-Chicago Bulls at Milwaukee Bucks Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

We officially have a series on our hands. The Chicago Bulls were able to take away homecourt advantage from the Bucks, stealing a 114-110 victory at Fiserv Forum.

Talk about a rollercoaster of a start. Nearly as soon this one tipped off, Chicago took advantage of some Milwaukee turnovers and opened a 9-0 run. Then, following a timeout, the Bucks went on a run of their own. Going into the second quarter, the Bulls maintained a slight advantage, 29-28.

Turnovers would continue to haunt Milwaukee throughout the second quarter. It felt as if they couldn’t string together more than a few consecutive clean possessions before Chicago forced one. Had Brook Lopez and Wes Matthews not been connecting from deep, Chicago would’ve opened up a 20+ point lead. It wasn’t a pretty first half for the Bucks, as they were in a 63-49 hole at halftime.

The Bucks would try their best to make it a ballgame throughout the third. It’d take a little bit of time for the engines to start revving, but once they kicked in, they were on. Led by the pairing of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, Milwaukee was able to swing itself back into the thick of things. At one point, it’d be just a three point deficit, but Chicago went on a small run of their own to close out the quarter. Headed into the fourth, the Bulls led by an 87-80 lead.

Unfortunately for the Bucks, all of the energy that was spent on the comeback was immediately wasted as the fourth began, as Chicago embarked on a 9-0 run. The Bucks would scratch and claw as hard as they could to get back into it, but ultimately, it was too deep of a hole to dig themselves out of. The Bulls would get two massive offensive rebounds down the stretch which led to a DeMar DeRozan layup, which in turn proved to be the dagger. Chicago would leave Fiserv Forum with a 114-110 victory.

DeMar DeRozan led all scorers in this one with an impressive 41 points on 16-of-31 shooting.

Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way for Milwaukee, concluding his performance with 33 points. Brook Lopez poured in 25 of his own.

Three Observations

Turnovers continue to be disastrous for Milwaukee.

It really felt as if the opening two minutes of the game served as the microcosm of this one. Chicago’s defense made life difficult for the Bucks right off the bat and man, did they take advantage. It’s clear that the Bucks aren’t operating at full efficiency on the offensive end. The crazy thing? It doesn’t even really feel as if Chicago is doing anything that crazy.

This series may hinge on Khris Middleton’s health.

It was a tale of two halves for Khris Middleton. The typical impact that he makes on games just wasn’t there in the first half, as it took a long time for him to click. In the second half, he was more of himself, as his final stat line had him connecting on 5-of-7 from the 3-point line. However, his night was cut short when he took a slip down low near the basket. He hobbled off and initially appeared as if he was going to be able to shake it off. That didn’t last long, though. He eventually went to the locker room and was ruled out with knee soreness. The Bucks should still win if he’s unable to go, but obviously, things will be much tougher if he’s not able to.

Here is the update Bud just gave us in his postgame presser:

Bobby Portis’ absence was felt too.

In the first half, Bobby Portis was elbowed in the eye by Tristan Thompson. There was no foul call, but it resulted in an abrasion that sidelined Portis for the remainder of the game:

We all are aware of the impact that Portis brings not just to the Bucks, but to the fans in Fiserv Forum. It really did feel as if that was missing in the second half. Who knows, maybe things would’ve been different had he been out there. Fortunately, Bud mentioned in his postgame presser that Portis should be fine.

One positive tonight? Brook Lopez.

Coming into last night, he averaged 23.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks while shooting 52.9% over the last five games. He lived up to that stat line once again, posting 25 points. He’d be a bit shallow on the rebounding end, finishing with just three. However, it’s good news for the Bucks that he’s able to score the basketball like he currently is. He was stroking it from the 3-point line too, as he connected on three throughout the night. If the Bucks want to steal one in Chicago, he’ll likely need to shoulder a few more big offensive outings.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • There will be an MRI taking place tomorrow (today by the time you’re reading this) that will determine the severity of Khris Middleton’s injury. Currently, Bud classified it as an MCL sprain.
  • By scoring at least 11 points last night, Giannis is now the Bucks all-time playoff scoring leader.
  • You gotta give DeMar DeRozan credit. After saying that there was no way in hell he’d shoot 6-of-25 again, he lived up to his promise. He’d end up going 16-of-31 on the evening and exploded for 41 points. A tip of the cap to him for sure.
  • After Bobby Portis went down, so did the rest of the Milwaukee bench. Grayson Allen didn’t do much, as he only tallied several points on the evening. Pat Connaughton would be the only other bench player to score, as he only scored three points as well. Moving forward, more scoring will be needed from those two.
  • It was a bit of an off night for Jrue Holiday. Like Middleton early on, it took a while for him to find his groove. He then had some missed shots close to the rim. He also committed some head-scratching turnovers. It’ll be intriguing to see if he can shake it off going into Game 3, as the Bucks will need him at his best, especially given that they’ll be without Khris Middleton.