Five boxes that the Bulls would have to check to upset the Bucks

It was Tristan Thompson’s “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?’’ second.

The veteran large man was doing his finest to attempt to inspire his teammates going into this weekend’s Spherical 1 playoff showdown with the Milwaukee Bucks, and was once more preaching his personal championship historical past.

“In 2015 we performed the Atlanta Hawks, who had received 60-some video games, and so they beat up on us all 12 months earlier within the season … beat our ass each recreation, and so they weren’t shut video games both,’’ Thompson stated, with an excited pitch in his voice.

Really, Thompson’s Cavaliers crew beat that Hawks squad by 33 factors within the first recreation of that 2014-15 season, however overlook it, Thompson was rolling.

“After which we get to the playoffs and beat them 4-0,’’ Thompson continued. “We bought the entire week to check for this last examination, irrespective of how the earlier checks went. That’s why it doesn’t actually matter what crew does to you within the common season.’’

A very good level, however not an correct one. It wasn’t simply what Milwaukee did to the Bulls this season, sweeping them in all 4 conferences. It was what each elite crew did to the Bulls this season. Of the eight groups with a profitable share of .600 or higher, the Bulls have been an embarrassing 2-21, solely beating Boston and Dallas, and that got here manner again earlier than Nov. 10.

Does this Bulls roster have a path to upset the Bucks on this collection? Buried in a bunch of bushes and brush, yeah, a really, very slight one. However they would want to have all 5 of those keys go their manner.

1. Construct the wall – Miami has had the blueprint for just a few seasons in coping with Giannis Antetokounmpo, and that was on show but once more this 12 months. The “Greek Freak’’ shot 55.3% from the sector for the 2021-22 marketing campaign, however simply 38.6% towards the Warmth in three video games.

Sure, Miami has an elite defender in Bam Adebayo to throw on Antetokounmpo, however additionally they play him with physicality, and extra importantly when he’s attacking within the paint, construct a wall for him to attempt to plow via.

The Bulls don’t have a Bam or a Jimmy Butler, however Patrick Williams is an unproven bodily specimen, whereas Alex Caruso has no concern of placing his nostril within the combine. It received’t replicate the Warmth wall, nevertheless it higher a minimum of be a fence. Make Antetokounmpo be a mid-range jump-shooter and dwell with the outcomes.

2. No ice – The Bulls offense is at its finest when the ball is shifting and the assists are stacking up. The isolation ball performed manner an excessive amount of the final six weeks has to cease. It’s not what this Bulls crew is nice at, and it feeds proper into what the Bucks need defensively.

3. Three ball – The Bulls have been terrible defending the three-pointer, particularly because the All-Star Break. Milwaukee completed fifth within the NBA with 38.4 three-point makes an attempt per recreation and share (36.6%). The communication in rotating must be stellar for the Bulls in the event that they need to survive the long-range onslaught.

Meaning not solely Caruso, however Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan.

4. Bench mobbed – The Bulls bench is younger and has little or no playoff expertise. In the meantime, Bobby Portis, George Hill, Grayson Allen, Pat Connaughton and Serge Ibaka are all able to turning a small Bucks lead into a big one.

Bulls guards Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu will probably be examined like they haven’t been examined this season.

5. No whine with that cheese – Playoff basketball is bodily. Baskets are more durable to come back by. LaVine, and even DeRozan at occasions, whine manner an excessive amount of once they don’t get perceived calls, and much too usually carry that to the defensive finish. That has to cease. Begging for calls within the playoffs is a fast method to an early summer season trip.

NOTE: Lead assistant Chris Fleming and assistant Damian Cotter will miss Sport 1 in Milwaukee, after testing constructive for the coronavirus and going into the league’s well being and security protocol.

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