Chicago Bulls vs Milwaukee Bucks Game 3 preview and thread: PIVOT
Your Chicago Bulls return home for their first playoff action at the United Center in five years. And they come up with their ‘I-94 Series’ opening round game against the Milwaukee Bucks surprisingly tied, 1-1, in a series that could easily have been 2-0 Bulls if Chicago hadn’t drawn a lean. 32.3% from the field in Game 1 on Sunday.
The Bucks drew first blood, barely winning 93-86 on Sunday, but looked shaken by Chicago’s incredibly efficient and committed defense, and outside of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez, struggled to get much themselves. cooking in attack. They shot just 40.5% from the ground.
On Wednesday, Chicago put on the same stellar defensive effort, and this time their shots fell. They beat the Bucks 114-110, despite leading by as much as 18 points in that road fight. DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic were the top scorers (Zach LaVine was no slouch himself), while Alex Caruso led the way on defense and Patrick Williams came through to remain an attractive player in both sense.
Maybe the Bucks had a better “Shooting Quality Score” in Game 2, but DeMar DeRozan has built a career on making impossible shots, and he certainly proved it on Wednesday night by posting his first-ever playoff performance of 40-plus points, going 16 of 31 from the field, including his signature line of tough markings both inside the paint and around the elbows.
After Khris Middleton suffered a MCL sprain this will seemingly keep him out for the rest of the series, the Bucks’ advantage in healthy personnel is gone. Chicago is missing its third- or fourth-best player in Lonzo Ball, while Milwaukee is now without its second All-Star in Middleton, as well as its point guard in the Ghost of George Hill. The Bucks have always been pretty shallow, and now it looks even worse for them with the shooting issues of Pat Connaughton and Grayson Allen. And Jevon Carter hasn’t been able to contribute much in place of Hill, at least on offense.
Bobby Portis also suffered an injury in Game 2, scraping his right eye thanks to an inadvertent (probably?) Tristan Thompson. But Portis isn’t listed on the Bucks’ injury report today, suggesting he’ll at least give it a try tonight.
Chicago could really beat the reigning world champions now, thanks to Middleton’s injury and Milwaukee’s lackluster play and disappointing depth.
They’ll need more big games from DeRozan and Vucevic, and at least continued efficiency from Zach, to outplay the Bucks. Equally important, they’ll need the teeming defense of Alex Caruso (who is looking back after playing injured down the regular season stretch) as well as solid efforts at that end of the field from their big three. Williams needs to keep looking to score on the inside and believe his athleticism can bother the Bucks. The Bulls must win at least one game in this two-game United Center home game. Will it happen tonight?
Here’s a fun X-factor ahead of tonight’s action: Bench players are historically much better at home. Considering that, among the Chicago reserves, only Coby White had a single double-digit scoring night (he scored 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting in Game 1), it seems someone is due for a night. from evasion to attack. My bet is on Javonte Green.
Game time: 7:30 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Chicago and ABC.
Odds: The Bulls saw a massive shift in their odds in Vegas. The Bucks, who were 10-point favorites in Game 2, are now just 2.5 point favorites. The over/under of the game’s cumulative score is 222.5 points in total.
To verify DraftKings Sportsbookthe official sports betting partner of SB Nation.