bonus: weird rotations!
The Bulls were essentially routed in Milwaukee tonight, eventually falling 108-97 to the Bucks in the first leg of their home-and-home. The score is a bit misleading, as the Bulls were down 27 in the first half and entered the 3rd quarter down 22. In what was the first 4th quarter they’ve won in ages, the Bulls did get the deficit down to 8 with 3 minutes remaining on a Jimmy Butler three-pointer, but in the following clutch possessions he was blocked twice and threw away the ball on another try.
It was perhaps Butler’s worst game of the season, doing his usual work at the FT line to get to 21 points on 16 shots, but most was after seeing the Bulls in a huge hole. Same with Dwyane Wade, who sparked the 4th quarter run to finish with 20.
But for a majority of the game, the Bulls offense had huge problems. They couldn’t hit from the outside (5-19 from three, all but maybe 2 in the fourth), and then the Bucks famed length kept them from being able to finish in side. And the Bulls couldn’t use their size advantage to get their usual dominance in the offensive glass, in fact getting bested by the Bucks in that department pretty significantly. And worse yet, there were so many turnovers. 16 overall, actually lower than the Bucks, but a lot of them came early.
That first half, the story was all Bucks. They were wreaking havoc on the defensive end to get their running game going, which isn’t that uncommon.
Both Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker were stellar. They led Milwaukee to 64 points after two periods, but it felt like it could’ve been even worse with the Bucks missing several gimmes inside. But worse for the Bulls was that they hit everything from outside, finishing 7/8 from three in that first half. Even Tony Snell got in a couple jabs, playing a Snell-esque game (was bad, still a +2) but would you look at this.
Tony Snell is loving this game. pic.twitter.com/F8YBpzD7SQ
— ⓂarcusD2.0 (@_MarcusD2_) December 16, 2016
That’s hopefully as low as this season gets…by the end of the first half Reggie Miller was (bizarrely, even I’d admit) talking about the Bulls lack of effort in the context of costing Fred Hoiberg his job.
A big story from this game should be Hoiberg’s threatened ‘rotation change’ form the last game, resulting in the first DNP-CD of Nikola Mirotic’s career. He, Isiah Canaan, and Jerian Grant were glued to the bench in favor of continued minutes for Cristiano Felicio but new roles for Bobby Portis and Denzel Valentine. While they were part of the Bulls run in the 4th, for much of the game to that point they looked as overmatched as they have been all season, especially so against this Bucks roster, the type that can jump over all their heads. Hoiberg’s bench choices were definitely producing lineups that would do much defensively, and the offense would be slow-developing action for Wade and Butler to work from midrange, which isn’t enough to fully make up the kind of deficit they already dug themselves. And it’s just weird to have someone like Portis go from DNPs to playing the entire 4th quarter like tonight.
The Bulls play next against this very same team tomorrow in Chicago.
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