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Friday night was a big game in determining the series. Game 3 was the Bulls’ first playoff game since 2017, an unbearably long time for a sports-obsessed city like Chicago.
Well, the Bulls laid an egg in their 111-81 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, the worst ever playoff defeat in team history. With that said, let’s dig into the game and give out some grades.
DeMar DeRozan: C-
After erupting for a playoff career-high 45 points in Game 2, DeRozan dropped back down to earth. The Bucks guards pressed up on DeRozan, not allowing him to get comfortable. The Bulls don’t put a lot of pressure on the rim. DeRozan drew a foul on 16.5 percent of his shots in the regular season, yet only attempted five free throws in Game 3. Milwaukee allows the fifth-fewest shots at the rim in the entire NBA throughout the regular season. DeRozan and the Bulls have to do a better job of challenging the rim in Game 4.
Zach LaVine: D
LaVine didn’t impact the game much in Game 3. If he didn’t have the ball, he wasn’t cutting to the basket, and if he wasn’t involved in the primary action, he wandered around the perimeter. LaVine settled for an obscene amount of tough shots in the game. The Bucks allow 15 points on 13 shots isn’t enough for the Bulls. It’s still clear that he’s hurting, but LaVine picked an inopportune time for a flat performance.
Alex Caruso: C
Caruso knocked down three 3-pointers for the Bulls. Caruso, the Bulls’ resident energy guy, tried to uplift his teammates with his passionate clapping following a timeout in the second quarter. Caruso’s impact is felt more when the team’s stars show up … and that didn’t occur tonight.
Patrick Williams: F
At least Williams was aggressive? The good: Williams shot the ball nine times (he only shot 8+ times times in just three of his 17 regular-season games). The bad: The second-year forward missed all of his attempts. Williams corralled three rebounds, one steal, and one block. Williams offered little resistance against the Bucks’ frontcourt.
Nikola Vucevic: C
Vucevic was far from the issue in tonight’s postseason matchup. Against the Bucks’ drop defense, Vucevic spaced the floor well (knocked down three of his nine 3-point attempts). On defense he moved his feet well and challenged shots at the rim, even collecting a block.
The bench: F
Yikes. The lack of bench productivity was alarming for Chicago in this game. Even with the extended run the backups received in the fourth quarter, they could only muster 18 points, 17 rebounds, and seven assists. For reference, Grayson Allen scored a loud and impactful 22 points by himself off the bench.
There’s no other way around it, this was a missed opportunity for the Bulls. Without Middleton, the Bucks should have been the team in disarray. Instead, the Bulls’ regular season woes against good teams reared its ugly head once again.
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