The road through the playoffs will go through Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Bucks defeated the Bulls 105-92 to earn home-court advantage for the entire postseason.
It’d take a little bit of time for the Bucks to get things rolling, but they’d eventually start by opening up a double-digit lead — even without Giannis. That was thanks in large part to a pair of threes from Jevon Carter, whose offense provided a major spark. His nine points paced Milwaukee in the opening frame and provided them with a 28-21 lead.
Khris Middleton would exit the game in the second quarter due to right knee soreness. His absence would be noticed right away, as the Bulls leapt the Bucks with a 10-2 run and took the lead. Headed into the break, Chicago clung to a small 51-49 advantage.
The Bulls would begin the third on a run, but the Bucks answered in a big way by rattling off a 15-0 run to jump back in front. Things would flip back-and-forth as the quarter wound down, with the score tilted Milwaukee’s favor at 79-76 going into the fourth.
In the fourth, Milwaukee would connect some very timely shots that helped seal everything up. Chicago wouldn’t really make it competitive at all down the stretch and the Bucks dusted things off with a 105-92 victory, earning home-court advantage throughout the entire postseason.
Bobby Portis was the leading scorer for Milwaukee, publishing his effort with 27 points. 18 of those came via the 3-point ball. He earned another double-double, posting 13 total boards.
Brook Lopez was an absolute menace on the offensive side of the ball. He erupted for 26 points on 10-of-19 shooting.
Last, Jrue Holiday was a solid presence, pouring in 20 points and facilitating 15 assists. He came two rebounds shy of a triple-double.
Nikola Vucevic was the leading scorer for the Bulls, concluding his outing with 21 points.
The Bucks will now have a day off before they play their final regular season home game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night.
The playoffs will go through Milwaukee.
This is a major accomplishment. After jockeying position with the Boston, the Bucks earned the top spot with last night’s victory over the Bulls. Leading up to this moment, players on the team have mentioned how it is something that they desired. While they obviously all have bigger goals in mind, this is still a big accolade. Here’s some comments:
Asked Bobby Portis how it feels to have the No. 1 seed locked up: pic.twitter.com/vwNrrNqoJF— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) April 6, 2023
Should it come down to it, a Game 7 in Milwaukee has the chance to be monumental. Earlier this season, Giannis talked about how he’s never played in a Game 7 in Milwaukee. Now, they’ll have that opportunity should it arise.
Bobby Portis stepped up in a big way.
I feel like that can never not be true. Bobby Portis always steps up. Last night, he did in a major way. Given the fact that Giannis was sidelined, BP entered the starting lineup. A double-double machine this season, he strung together yet another one last night. He was also massive from the 3-point line, connecting on six threes which helped pave the way for 27 points. This marked his second straight night with an impactful performance. His thoughts when he’s called on to contribute more?
Bobby Portis stepped up in a big way tonight, burying six threes and going for 27 points.— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) April 6, 2023
"I mean, I like shooting the ball, so..." he said with a big smile. "A couple guys out, there's a lot more shots out there so I get to be a little bit more aggressive," he laughed.
Some may have thought he was shooting the ball too well...
Had a drug test after the game guys!! ♂️— Bobby BP Portis (@BPortistime) April 6, 2023
The level of consistency that exists on this Bucks team is pretty incredible. Players such as Portis and Brook Lopez are always relied on to be locks for solid contributions because they do it so much. It truly is amazing.
Wesley Matthews was magnificent.
We haven’t seen a whole lot of Wesley Matthews this season. He’s been battling injuries at multiple points throughout the year and has been on the outside of the rotation looking in for a majority of the season. However, last night, he was called on by Bud — and boy, did he deliver. He received the defensive assignment of DeMar DeRozan and absolutely put the clamps on him. He’d scratch out just eight points, going 3-of-12 from the floor. That was instrumental in ensuring that the Bucks would escape victorious. Now, let’s go into the mind of Matthews himself in what he focuses on when defending a scoring talent like DeRozan:
“I mean, he’s a hell of a player. He’s one of the best scorers that this league has seen. Him and I came into this league the same time so we’ve been battling for 14 years now. He’s one of my favorite players to play against, favorite players to watch. Nothing but respect and love for DeMar. But the biggest thing is trying to keep him off the free throw line...try to make him as uncomfortable as possible. He’s got an array of moves. Being disciplined — that’s what you have to do and you have to be willing to take that challenge.”
You can already tell that Wes will be called on again in the postseason and chances are, he’ll deliver.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- Khris Middleton would leave the game in the first quarter. It appeared he tweaked it here:
Following this, there were multiple timeouts taken by Milwaukee — yet Middleton remained out there. I think it was around eight minutes or so that he actually still was out on the court following that tweak. Postgame, Mike Budenholzer said it was just kind of a right knee soreness, a re-aggravation of kind of something they’ve been working with him on all year. He didn’t say if Middleton would play the remaining two regular season games, but given how the Bucks wrapped the No. 1 seed up, I’d be surprised if he does suit up.
- Jevon Carter continues to dazzle. Not only was his defense massive on Zach LaVine (he was held to just eight points), but he made his impact felt on the offensive side of the ball. The three ball was on for him throughout the evening, as he connected on four of them. His increased efficiency on offense has had major dividends for Milwaukee this season and will serve as an X-Factor in the postseason.
- Jrue Holiday had his fingerprints all over the box score, nearly tallying a triple-double. His assists kept going up and up. All in all, he finished with 15 dimes on the night. However, it didn’t come with fruition, as he was piling up turnovers to begin things. However, the veteran on the team had some inspiring words for him:
Wesley Matthews on what he told Jrue Holiday following his turnover struggles: "Let that shit go. You're the best point guard in the world. Go be that."— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) April 6, 2023
- Speaking of Wes, this game warranted a podium appearance from him for his postgame availability. When Brook Lopez and Meyers Leonard heard he was heading there, they started clapping, resulting in the entire locker room cheering. This team’s chemistry is great.
- Joe Ingles continues to look very comfortable out there. He hit several more threes last night, tallying nine points off the bench. The transformation he’s made from the beginning of the year when he first returned from injury to now is pretty wild.
- Last, this was the most clutch moment I’ve seen in my time covering the Jackpot Shot: