The Milwaukee Bucks became a defensive powerhouse during the postseason as they won their first NBA championship. They finished No. After finishing near the bottom in the regular season, the playoff team was ranked No. 1 in defensive efficiency.
The Bucks were No. 14 in defense during 2021-22 regular-season. They turned up the intensity to start the postseason, beating the Chicago Bulls offensive and winning 93-86 in Milwaukee.
“Sometimes, you have to win ugly,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer stated. It’s not always going to be perfect or pretty.
Milwaukee started the game by jumping out to a 9-1 lead and building a 16-point first-quarter advantage over its division opponent. This was after winning all four regular-season games. The Bulls fought back and took the lead in quarter three before the Bucks rallied in the fourth.
Bulls guard Zach LaVine stated, “They made a few more winning plays than us.”
The Bucks had lost five of six Game 1s in their two playoff runs. Their only win came against the Miami Heat in the first round last year. They won despite 21 turnovers. This was an atypically poor performance by Khris Midton, who shot just 4 of 13 (3-for-7 from 3) for 11 points and seven turnovers. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored zero in the fourth quarter.
Antetokounmpo said that there were many reasons the game was so ugly. He finished with 27 points and 16 rebounds. “We couldn’t make open shots, couldn’t get to our spots. Both for us and both teams. It is important not to play the game for more than a few days. This can cause you to lose your rhythm. A win is still a win. We didn’t want the score to be 0-1.
On Sunday, Milwaukee received defensive contributions from every corner of the floor.
Antetokounmpo was limited in minutes due to foul trouble, but he was still a disruptive defensive force whenever the Bulls got near him.
Jrue Holiday and Wesley Matthews worked together to slow down DeMar DeRozan and LaVine, who shot 6 of 25 when one was the primary defender. Chicago’s Big 3: DeRozan (LaVine, Nikola Vucevic) combined to shoot 21-for-71/29.6% from the field and 4 out of 22 from 3.
DeRozan stated, “I don’t know what was happening.” It wasn’t me. We all. Vooch, Zach, and I are certainly not to miss another shot. We need to continue to defend our actions and take them to the next level.
DeRozan finished with 18 points after 43 minutes. He said that he was satisfied with the majority of shots he took.
He said, “I’ll live again with them.” “No way in hell will I shoot 6 of 25 again.”
The Bulls could shoot 32.3% from the field and 18.9% from 3.
With Antetokounmpo & LaVine in foul trouble, the fourth quarter saw Holiday’s defense make all the difference.
“Guys such as Wes, Jrue, and Khris take great pride in playing good defense,” Bucks center Brook Lopez stated. They stepped up their game at the end. They understood that we needed stops, so they were 100% locked in. We got the job done.”
Chicago has struggled against the East’s top teams this season (1-14 against top 4 seeds in the regular season). Putting together a competitive match against Milwaukee is a significant step up from their previous two regular-season matches.
DeRozan felt that Sunday’s game was a wasted opportunity, even though the Bulls had a chance at winning Game 1 in the final stretch.
DeRozan stated, “Yeah. I mean, it’s what it is now.” They did what they were supposed to at home. We have another chance to take home the court, which we’re aiming for now. There’s a lot we can learn from this game. Tomorrow, we will be able to look at a lot more and try to improve. We have one more chance here in Milwaukee before we return to Chicago.