The Bucks started off with a strong shooting performance, getting threes early from Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis (aka Bobby Goggles), while Jrue Holiday showed a renewed focus in finishing at the rim. Without Khris Middleton, Mike Budenholzer opted to super size the starting lineup, placing Bobby Portis alongside Lopez, Holiday, Wes Matthews, and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Grayson Allen hit three consecutive threes later in the first quarter, helping the Bucks open up a healthy lead and close the opening period up 33-17.
Milwaukee continued applying the pressure in the second quarter, especially when Nikola Vucevic was Chicago’s only big on the floor; the Bucks hunted him on offense to create mismatches while maintaining their excellent defensive pressure to deny the Bulls much momentum on the other end. It was, quite frankly, the type of play we expected from Milwaukee in Game 2, and the Bucks’ defense suffocated Chicago to the tune of a 60-41 halftime lead.
Disappointing any aspiring masochists out there in Bucks Twitter, Milwaukee failed to melt down in the third quarter. They increased their lead under a flood of threes and stifling defense, including significant stretches of time where Giannis was off the floor. A twenty point advantage grew to – and beyond – thirty, and the fourth quarter commenced with Milwaukee leading 90-59. It took mere minutes for Billy Donovan to pull his starters and wave the white flag, and this one was over.
Stat That Stood Out
At the 8:02 mark of the fourth quarter, Luca Vildoza made his debut as a Milwaukee Buck. The score was 97-64. That should tell you all you need to know about how complete of a game Milwaukee played tonight, and exactly how outmatched Chicago is when the Bucks are locked in. Khris or no Khris, this is the sort of effort that should be expected from the defending champs, and Mike Budenholzer deserves a ton of credit for using a jumbo starting lineup while also mixing in groups featuring four guards, all to keep Chicago off balance and behind the Bucks on the scoreboard.
Also, Luca Vildoza gave us THIS highlight, and we’ll be forever grateful.