Tag Archives: Milwaukee Bucks

Note-A-Bulls: The Bulls battle back against Milwaukee, win 109-94, to get back in playoff picture

Looking to forget about a loss to the 76’ers in their last game, the Bulls drove up the road to take on the Bucks in Milwaukee Sunday. On the outside looking in, the Bulls looked to pick up a win over a team on the other side of the playoff bubble.

Working what he was dealt, Hoiberg went tall with Rondo, Butler, Zipser, Miortic, and Lopez. For the Hornets, it was Middleton, Brogdon, former Bull Tony Snell, Maker, and Antetokounmpo. The first quarter was an action packed one, with both teams scoring back and forth. Despite the 60 points scored in the quarter, the lead was never larger than four points for either team.

Down 31-29 to start the 2nd quarter, the Bucks began with a 12-2 run, to lead 43-31, just three minutes into the new quarter. After slowly chipping away at the Milwaukee lead, the Bulls made their move by scoring 9 straight in the final minutes of the half to even things at 52-52. From there, two Rondo assists to Lopez and Mirotic gave the Bulls a surprising halftime lead, 56-55.

Similar to the 1st quarter, the 3rd was competitive and close. Each team held small leads over one another, before the Bulls extended the margin to six points halfway six minutes into the half. For the final half of the quarter, the Bulls dominated, extending Milwaukee’s margin and ultimately grabbing a 91-79 lead for the final 12 minutes. Nikola Mirotic was extremely productive in the quarter, grabbing four rebounds and showing off his long-distance shooting. The Bucks looked to squander the Bulls’ lead in the quarter, but Chicago would have none of it. A quick 7-2 run put the Bulls up 98-81, continuing the offensive success. The Bulls would later grab a 20-point lead and never look back, finishing off the Bucks 109-94 on a solid offensive night.

  • As far as offense goes, the Bulls’ starting lineup illustrated their success; every player scored in double digits, with Zipser being the only one tallying less than 18. Here were the FG makes and attempts per player: Mirotic (6/9), Butler (8/13), Zipser (3/7), Lopez (9/13), and Rondo (8/11).
  • Once again, Rondo showed his value by grabbing 9 rebounds, dishing out 9 assists, and finishing the night with 18 points.
  • Off the bench, the reserves couldn’t quite emulate what the starters were doing. No one scored more than four points, and no player shot better than 33.33% from the field. Valentine played a very quiet 24 minutes, while Lauvergne saw 18 minuts of action.
  • Despite a little more help from the bench, the Bucks starters failed to knock down shots from the field. The team shot just 44%, despite a solid night from Greg Monroe and Antetokounmpo, 16 and 22 points respectively.
  • Despite starting, the young big man, Thon Maker, was given just nine minutes of action. Malcolm Brodgon logged 14 points in 30 minutes of action, continuing to show an ability to compete at the NBA level.
  • Next up: the Bulls host the Cavaliers on Thursday. Given their recent history, the matchup should be more promising than the stats would suggest.
Advertisements

Note-A-Bulls: Bucks curb stomp Bulls for second straight night in 95-69 route

The weather outside was indeed frightful outside the United Center on Friday night. On the second night of a back-to-back, the Bulls looked to rebound after a bad loss to their rivals up north, the Milwaukee Bucks. As the white snow continued to increase on the streets of Chicago, twenty-thousand strong packed into the United Center.  One of the bigger headlines heading into the game was whether or not Stacey King would finally pronounce Giannis Antetokounmpo’s name correctly.

As the entire world celebrated the opening of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the Bulls celebrated in their own way, with Star Wars night. Benny the Bull disguised as Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the team at CSN creating their own twist on The Empire Strikes Back. Robin Lopez and Greg Monroe squared at center court, with Lopez winning the tip and with that, Bulls basketball was on the air. The Bucks supported their all green road jerseys while the Bulls wore their usual white home jerseys. Not to anyone’s surprise, the UC did not have its usual attendance at the game, given the poor conditions in the Chicago area. The Bucks got off to a strong start, leading 9-4 at the nine-minute mark.  Nearing the halfway mark of the first, Giannis was already getting into his groove. The “Greek Freak” had eight points, two assists, and two rebounds at the 6:24 mark as the Bulls took a timeout with Milwaukee leading 18-11. The Bulls did a nice job of keeping the Bucks’ lead in striking distance, as Rajon Rondo created separation on Malcolm Brogdon and scooped home a layup to cut the lead to five. However, Milwaukee just continued to push on the gas. After excellent ball movement and unselfish offense, Mirza Teletovic hit a three to put the Bucks’ lead to eleven, and once again it looked like the Bulls were going to be in for a long night against a bad team. The Bucks were shooting nearly 70% from the field while the Bulls were shooting just under 40%. While the field goal percentage for Chicago was by no means atrocious, you just simply can’t allow your opponent to shoot so well from the floor. The defensive struggles continued for the Bulls, along with the domination by Giannis. In addition to the struggles on defense, the Bulls finished the quarter missing their last eight shots. The team was shooting twenty-three percent after one. Milwaukee led 34-15, and Giannis led all scorers with ten points.

The second quarter began similar to how the first went. The Bucks moved the ball perfectly, and as a result, Teletovic hit another three off an unselfish pass by Malcolm Brogdon. As the clock continued to run, the Bucks continued to make their shots, and with ease. As Jimmy Butler picked up his third foul, Milwaukee led by twenty with just under nine minutes to play in the half. The minutes in the half continued to drop, and so did the Bulls play. Poor movement on offense, not hustling on defense, and just a general lack of effort and sloppy play by the Bulls. At the halfway mark of the second, Milwaukee continued to enforce its will with a twenty-one-point lead, and showing no signs of slowing down. The Bulls hoped that they could just find some sort of spark to close out the half. However, that spark was just never ignited. The same issues continued to hinder any offense with the Bulls, with poor ball movement and wasting possessions. The Bucks’ main point of emphasis was to protect the Bulls from getting to the rim, and it certainly worked.  They were giving all kinds of space to the Bulls guards, and players like Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler and Rajon Rondo (not to my surprise) just could not answer. Simply put, this may have been the worst half of basketball the Bulls have played this season. It was just a hot mess, and the poor play translated into a massive deficit at the half. While the Bulls made a little surge in the final minute, Milwaukee still led nineteen after the first half.

The Bucks began the third with possession of the basketball, as they hoped to continue to put their offense in cruise control. The quarter started rather slow, as Milwaukee only scored eight points in the first five and a half minutes of the quarter. However, the Bulls did not take advantage of the Bucks finally slowing down, as they only made one basket within that span of time. Things just simply were not clicking for the Bulls, as they continued to struggle offensively and miss shots that usually fall. Sensing that a run seemed unlikely, Fred Hoiberg seemed to almost be waving the white flag at the halfway point of the third quarter. Milwaukee led by as much as twenty-eight, and just did not break. As the third quarter ended, Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade sat on the Bulls bench with grim looks on their face, draped in their warmups, knowing another loss was headed the Bulls way.

Down twenty-two at the start of the fourth, the Bulls opened the scoring of the quarter as Bobby Portis hit a three from the corner. All five players on the court for the Bulls were off the bench, while Milwaukee still had the likes of Greg Monroe, Giannis, and other role players on the court. The Bucks just continued to enforce their will, and rightfully so. They just played so much better than the Bulls in every light of the game. As the few fans that remained at the UC grew restless, so did yours truly. This game was just an absolute eyesore, and while these kinds of games will happen every once in a while, the panic button may have to start coming out for the Bulls. While they have found ways to beat some of the best teams in basketball, they can’t seem to figure it out against the NBA’s “lower class”. However, after watching this mockery, we have to start thinking how and why the Bulls play like they do. One game you’re looking at a team that seriously might fight with the eastern conference’s elite, and another night you seem a team that belongs in the lottery.

I’m not the biggest fan of pointing fingers, but this has to relate back to Fred Hoiberg. Now one and a quarter seasons in, this team continues to struggle finding its identity. The Bulls do not play till Monday, and I think it’s safe to say that this weekend will serve of massive importance for the Bulls’ success in the immediate AND foreseeable future. Drive home extra safe Chicago, not only because of the weather, but for these Bulls. The final score of the game, Milwaukee ninety-five, the Bulls sixty-nine.

Up Next: The Bulls play host to yet another Central division rival as the Pistons come to town on Monday night.

Note-A-Bulls vs. Milwaukee Bucks December 15, 2016: Bulls Forget Fundamentals, Fall to Bucks 108-97.

After an embarrassing loss against Tom Thibodeau and the Minnesota Timberwolves last time out, the Bulls looked to turn the corner against their rivals up north, the Milwaukee Bucks. Unfortunately, the Bulls were no match for a team that is comprised of everything they want to be; young, long and athletic. From the opening tip, the size and athleticism was apparent for the Milwaukee Bucks as Chicago native Jabari Parker and the “Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo showed just how efficient and exciting the Bucks could be. A future invested in the up-tempo style and shot-creating playmakers appears to be a good route to develop Milwaukee into a contender. However, the Bulls continue to fall behind at addressing the need for true basketball players like the Bucks twosome, and continue to draft athletes, that have lately lacked the necessary basketball skill to go along with it.

  • The Bulls got off to a slow start in the 1st quarter that was emphasized by a missed alley-oop to Jimmy Butler, followed by the speed and length (a theme of the game) of Milwaukee with a Jabari Parker slam dunk to finish the sequence.
  • The Bulls came out very careless with the basketball and by the 9:19 mark in the 2nd quarter; they already had 9 turnovers, which converted into 14 Milwaukee points.  The lack of a true point guard continues to hurt as Rajon Rondo finished the night with 5 points, and 3 turnovers. In analyzing this team I have yet to figure out the Bulls plan in signing Rondo in the first place, as he continues to be a tough fit into their lineup and cannot jumpstart the offense when they need it most.
  • The Bucks missed a tremendous amount of easy lay-ups in the 1st half thanks to misses by big free agent-signing Greg Monroe but the Bulls could not take advantage and found themselves down 64-45 by halftime.
  • When the Bulls cross half court into the offensive zone this season, I have yet to see an actual offensive plan. While I usually only listen to Bulls’ analyst Stacey King for a great sound byte, he actually made a very valid point this evening. Tonight’s focus shifted to the play of Doug McDermott. King talked about how the Bulls continue to put McDermott in the game, yet they do not run plays to get him open. For a player like McDermott, consistency is key. If the Bulls know that he is more of a shooter vs. a shot-creator, then they need to create a package to emphasize that. The Bulls continue to get in the offensive zone and play four corners with the ball, hoping someone eventually gets open. There are rarely any clear cuts to the basket, set plays to utilize specialized players like McDermott, and they are left with a last second effort pick and roll and a forced shot.
  • The Bulls inability to take advantage of a player like McDermott is not unfamiliar. The similar lack of understanding of how to use Kyle Korver comes to mind. While Korver was always a reliable shooter, in  my opinion, he never truly lived up to the Bulls’ fans expectations. But with an offense that barely had any scorers, and lack of a game plan for a specialized catch and shoot player, he suffered. Since Korver left the Bulls after the 2012 season, his playing time increased and his 3-point percentage increased from .435 during his final year as a Bull to  .457 the next year, and .492 in 2014, one of his better years as a member of the Atlanta Hawks. He only averaged 2 more points per game as a Hawk, but his efficiency is what mattered. He was able to be utilized in a way the Bulls could never figure out. This same issue is plaguing the team now, and McDermott, who they traded up to acquire, is now a shell of the shooter he could be. He is never going to be an all-around two-way basketball player, and if the Bulls admit that and begin to understand how to implement him better into their offense, they will reap the benefits.
  • It seems as though there cannot be a recap I write without mentioning Nikola Mirotic. In a game in which big-bodied skill players were the biggest obstacles for the Bulls, the 6 foot 10 Mirotic never saw the floor. I think the Bulls are unfortunately starting to understand that Mirotic may not be the all-around player they thought they drafted. Just like McDermott, Mirotic is becoming categorized as a specialized player. If this is the reality, the Bulls then need to adapt to take full advantage of what he can offer. If he is supposed to be a lights-out shooter, then design plays for him to get open, like the plays that are needed for McDermott. If the Bulls do not address altering their approach and game plan revolving around these two players, their lack of production will continue. The Bulls have nothing to lose if they actively try to incorporate McDermott and Mirotic into their offense. The question becomes if they in fact know how to do that.
  • Again the 3-point percentage comparison was not a contest tonight as the Bucks shot 55 % from behind the arc, while the Bulls shot 26.3 % going 5-19. Early on in this game, Jabari Parker was 3-3 from 3-point land, the team was 7-8 and the Bulls could not find the basket.
  • The ghost of Tom Thibodeau’s past continued to haunt the Bulls tonight, as defense came at a premium. If the Bulls lose a game, an over-reaction is not needed when dissecting every play. However, when fundamentals are forgotten, as they were tonight, there is cause for concern. Defensive switching continued to be a problem tonight, as more often than not the Bulls were late getting around a screen, late covering their man, or double teamed when it was not necessary, leaving a skilled Bucks team to find the open man left alone for the easy basket. If the Bucks can move the ball successfully through a defense behind 39 year-old NBA lifer Jason Terry, your defense has a problem. The breakdowns were many in tonight’s matchup.
  • Because of the lack of defense, the Bucks were able to get a tremendous amount of shots off. While their biggest lead was 27, at around the 7:42 mark in the 3rd, the Bucks had 18 more shots than the Bulls. 18 more scoring opportunities. The lack of defensive points to how that staggering stat was even possible.
  • A rare bright spot again for the Bulls is the play of Cristiano Felicio. While the stats may not reflect it, his 7 points and 10 rebounds continue to impress as he is beginning to make himself into a player to look out for in the post.
  • An encouraging takeaway for Bucks fans is the two-headed monster of Jabari Parker (28 points) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (30 points). These players have tremendous skill, size and basketball awareness. Seeing them both healthy together was exciting, and especially after Parker’s injury it was great to see him make the consistent high-level scoring plays, that made him the #1 recruit out of Simeon and Duke. I never thought I would tell the Bulls to take a page out of the Bucks playbook, but they have found a formula in drafting incredible basketball talent in both Parker and Antetokounmpo.
  • Up Next: The Bulls will get a second chance against the Bucks as they finish the home and home tomorrow night at the UC at 7pm.

The New #1 won’t do #2

It appears as if Bulls management is looking to steer into the skid.

In a move that would’ve been been met with intrigue back in 2013 when these two were first drafted, the Bulls shipped Tony Snell to the Milwaukee Bucks for Michael Carter-Williams in a 1-for-1 deal that had both fan bases thinking, “Why not?”

The Bucks are looking to replace Khris Middleton (who is expected to miss six months after hamstring surgery) with the clearance sale version of him in Snell. Meanwhile, the Bulls are continuing to show that the most backward thinking front office has not changed its ways.

I feel safe in saying that not many will feel Snell’s absence when the 2016-2017 season kicks off next week, as he was already lacking any significant playing time, but I struggle to see how this move benefits the Bulls in any way. I’m sure both clubs are thinking a change of scenery will do this duo some good, but nothing in their careers has pointed towards any evidence of this.

MCW’s biggest weakness is his three point shooting. He is a career 25% shooter from the outside and will be a nice complement to the starting point guard Rajon Rondo, a career 29% 3-point shooter.

This comes as no surprise to anyone who has followed this team in the offseason as GarPax continue to assemble the worst shooting team in NBA history while the league moves more and more in the space and pop direction.

Not only does it clog up the court when MCW inhabits it, it also clogs up the guard spot on the Bulls roster. The Bulls currently have four point guards in Rondo, MCW, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Jerian Grant. While Grant will more than likely be cut, Dinwiddie showed flashes that made those who watched feel as though he could be a nice backup PG. He also has shown the potential to shoot the ball when in college at Colorado and is a big body that makes him a competent defender.

However, Bulls fans may never know what he has to offer in the regular season as he is not only stuck at PG behind Rondo and MCW but also at SG where he is behind Wade, Valentine, and more than likely Canaan. Say nothing for Snell, but at least the guy could play multiple positions.

All things considered, I don’t think this move greatly impacts the Bulls one way or the other , it’s just further evidence that GarPax are grasping at straws at this point and hoping to pull out a rose (pun sort of intended).

 

BULLet Points: Bulls handle Bucks, but is it too late?

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.