The Bulls held on for a 102-98 victory over the Bucks on Sunday, but they still sit two games back of a playoff spot with only a handful to go. Their odds are long, but nothing is off the table yet. The Bulls just have to keep pushing and hope things fall their way. Let’s take a look at their win in Milwaukee.
- Jimmy Butler followed up Saturday night’s massive triple double with another great performance. He notched 25 points, eight assists and five boards on 10/11 shooting, the first time a Bull had shot that well on 10+ shots since Scottie Pippen in 1990-91. Mentally, Jimmy looks to be all the way back from his knee issue after having some confidence issues in prior games.
- While Butler was masterful against Detroit on Saturday, he dominated the ball; at one point late in the game, several possessions in a row were the same Butler-Pau Gasol two man game. Against Milwaukee, Jimmy still facilitated the offense but kept the ball moving much more. Everyone was able to get involved, and the offense looked much better. Granted, Stan Van Gundy’s Pistons defend a lot better than the Bucks.
- Pau Gasol played pretty well for an old guy on a back-to-back. He scored 16 points to go along with eight rebounds and eight assists. Pau attempted four three pointers (making one), but his stroke is pretty sound from deep. Makes you wonder how things might’ve been different if the team made a conscious effort to have him out there more often from the start.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo was the player of the game. Now the Bucks point guard (at nearly seven feet tall!), Giannis was absolutely unstoppable unless Jimmy Butler was on him. The Greek Freak tallied a career-high 34 points on 14/22 shooting to go along with nine assists. His only weakness offensively is shooting, so putting the ball in his hands forces teams to play him close or cede a long-legged drive to the bucket. That defensive attention has unleashed Chicago-product Jabari Parker, who many were starting to wonder about. Jabari had 24 and 11.
- After no-showing against Detroit, Nikola Mirotic played a big role on Sunday with 19 points and six rebounds. It seems pretty clear that Mirotic is most effective when given the freedom to go to work offensively. Sure, he’s gonna have some awful shooting nights, but forcing him to the margins of the offense just doesn’t fit his game. Hopefully Fred Hoiberg is able to find Niko’s sweet spot next season like he has for Doug McDermott this year.
- Justin Holiday continues to get regular rotation minutes, but still hasn’t broken through in a meaningful way. He’s 27, so it’s hard to imagine him developing much more in the future. Regardless, he’ll be cheap as hell next year, so *shrug*.
- E’Twaun Moore was solid in 27 minutes, and he’s been a real find this season. To a lesser degree, Cristiano Felicio was also a good spot, as he looks worthy of playing at the end of an NBA rotation. He doesn’t offer much offensively, but he’s a natural defensive center.
- Derrick Rose missed his second straight game but is set to return on Tuesday against Memphis. Khris Middleton sat out for Milwaukee, a nice break for the Bulls.
- Coming up: the Bulls head to Memphis on Tuesday night.