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Milwaukee vs. Chicago: Bucks Shellack Bulls

This one was a beatdown nearly from wire-to-wire

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NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Chicago Bulls Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

You don’t often get to enjoy a crushing of the Chicago Bulls that didn’t require even a single solid performance from a star, but the Milwaukee Bucks seem to be so far ahead of their divisional opponent that they can comfortably win 127-106 despite merely 18 points from their superstar.

The Bucks didn’t even need a shot attempt from Giannis Antetokounmpo in the first quarter as they staked a 26-20 lead behind holding Chicago to just 33% shooting overall from the field. Pinpoint passing and ball movement throughout the second period helped the Bucks open up a sizable 58-43 advantage heading into halftime. Milwaukee maintained that commanding lead 96-82 heading into the fourth period, despite 40 points from DeMar DeRozan keeping Chicago hanging on by a thread. There was just nothing the Bulls could do though, as their defense couldn’t stop Milwaukee and everyone not named DeMar DeRozan couldn’t hit a shot. It turned into an easy win for the Bucks who turn their sights to the Boston Celtics on Thursday.

Three Pointers

Brook Lopez ate the Bulls up. Defensively, he was his usual stout self, preventing the Bulls from getting anything rolling at the rim and forcing them into shots from floater or further out in the midrange. Offensively though, he was rolling, literally. Repeatedly he was finding different lanes to penetrate off-ball and as the Bulls provided more pressure on the Bucks stars, they found Lopez as he forced his way inside for finishes against Chicago’s soft interior. When that wasn’t there, he also showed some of his trademark slow-going driving ability as he found his way into the lane to manufacture points. It was the kind of complementary scoring performance we got used to in the Playoffs last year, with his typical threes sprinkled in too. He had a team-high 28 points to go with seven boards and three blocks.

The Bucks didn’t need their Big Three to pour on the points. It hasn’t been often this season that Milwaukee didn’t require at least one, if not two and oftentimes three of their Big Three to show out in the scoring department in order to secure a victory. This though was one of those rare cases where the complementary players really helped carry the team while the principle players acted as facilitators and took a backseat in the bucket department. Giannis had 18, Khris Middleton 19 and Jrue Holiday just 11. They also had 25 of the team’s 31 assists. Facilitation with payoff is just fine for me.

Happy for Grayson Allen. After looking hesitant in his first game in Chicago that featured cacophonous boos, credit to Grayson Allen for starting 3-3 from the field and looking aggressive with the ball. He was assertive most of the night off the catch trying to find his way into the porous Bulls interior defense or finding his shot. He even had some circus finishes and managed to strip Tristan Thompson inside as he went up for a shot. Unfortunately the bad blood seemed to continue in this one once again with a technical foul against Nikola Vucevic who gave a rough hand to the face of Allen as he drove inside. He had 13 points on 4-6 shooting.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • Khris Middleton, as if he felt compelled to directly answer of all our angst since his subpar Sunday performance, immediately cooked Caruso with a deep midrange jumper to open the game.
  • I’ve been almost wholly encouraged by Brook’s return thus far, but I have thought he’s been missing some of those in-between post shots he typically makes. Cleaning The Glass has him at 6-19 on short midrange shots (between 4-14) feet, and he missed his first from that range against Chicago. He was a fairly reliable scoring thread inside throughout the Playoffs last year, so it’d be nice to see him get the touch back on those awkward spaced shots. His rim touch remains though, and was on display during his glacial drives in this one.
  • The game opened with both teams combining for 0-11 from deep before Middleton broke the spell with three minutes remaining in the first.
  • ESPN said this was the first time all year that Giannis didn’t attempt a shot in the first quarter.
  • Signs of life from George Hill in this game! In the first half alone he drove past Alex Caruso for a lay-in, pulled off a behind the back dribble into a pull-up jumper he splashed and took a charge from DeMar DeRozan on the defensive end. He’s looked like a ghost offensively since coming back from his neck injury, and for all our talk about how he just needs to be Jeff Teague (and that’s really all he does have to do), Teague was also a late season addition and Hill is getting $4M a year. There’s a difference and it’s okay to expect a bit more.
  • Khris Middleton dunk alert! It was his sixth of the year.

It also reminded me of this unforgettable slam against another era of Chicagoball...

  • Here’s the type of Brook Lopez play I love to see. Giannis had the ball atop the arc in the third quarter, and the second he saw the defense shading too much to him, Lopez started his lumber into the lane and Antetokounmpo slipped him the ball. He barreled through Bulls defenders and finished through contact against Caruso. Those are the kind of opportune cuts to the lane that were so effective in the Playoffs last year. Oh yah, and then on the other end he blocked a shot at the rim.
  • Giannis may not have scored all that much, but his passing was sublime in the third period. After catching a pass from Holiday in the third when Williams was fronting him, he held it for barely a second before noticing a second Bulls defender helping down on him off the catch before easily shoveling it to Wes Matthews in the corner for a three.
  • Credit to the refs for calling DeRozan for an offensive foul when he made an awkward motion shoving his chest into Wes Matthews defensively during his shot attempt.
  • Seven players for the Bucks hit double figures on the night.

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