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Game 5 Preview: Bucks vs. Bulls

The Bucks stole Game 4 in Milwaukee; can they do it again in Chicago for Game 5?

Joel Brigham profile picture
Updated 11 months ago on
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#3 – Chicago Bulls

In order to win Game 5, the Chicago Bulls need to turn the ball over fewer than 26 times.

That’s really all there is to say about what happened in Game 4, a nail-biter that Chicago lost on a last-second defensive breakdown by Derrick Rose, but it never would have been anywhere near that close had the Bulls given up half as many points off of their ungodly number of turnovers. (Milwaukee had 39 of those in Game 4, for the record).

It’s a shame, too, because it wasted a career-playoff high scoring afternoon from Jimmy Butler, who dropped 33 points on 12-of-17 shooting in the losing effort. He was pretty incredible, scoring from all over the place and playing his same usual hustle defense. Butler is so fun to watch, and it’s definitely fair to start wondering whether this is his team rather than Rose’s at this point.

Rose, by the way, had a slow game to start, with only five points through three quarters, but he hit a huge three late in the fourth and his penetration on the following possession allowed for the Pau Gasol “and-one” that tied things up. He wasn’t as hot as he has been so far in this series, but he didn’t necessarily have to be with Butler scoring the way he was.

It did take a while to get Gasol cooking, which is something that will have to change in Game 5. Chicago will need to bang the ball inside and get their big man more involved earlier in the game if they hope to close out the series on Monday. Rose, who had eight turnovers all by himself, will need to set the tone in terms of taking better care of the basketball, but with fewer turnovers (and it’s hard to have more than 26 from an NBA playoff team) and a more well-rounded offensive effort, it’s hard to imagine Chicago dropping Game 5 at home. The Bucks have played valiantly, but enough’s enough.

#6 – Milwaukee Bucks

On the one hand, you could say that the Chicago Bulls just didn’t take care of the basketball. On the other hand, you could hone in on the fact that Milwaukee played smothering defense in this game and really forced Chicago into turning the ball over as often as they did. They had hands everywhere and were really aggressive, playing exactly like a team with its back to the wall. On Saturday, defense was the name of the game for Milwaukee, who won their first playoff game in five years.

Of course, a huge reason they won that game was because Jason Kidd decided to play his veterans in crunch time rather than his kids. It may have been easy to miss considering how little they had done up to that point, but neither Giannis Antetokounmpo nor Michael Carter-Williams played down the stretch in the fourth quarter, instead ceding time to Jerryd Bayless and Jared Dudley, who were huge in this game. Dudley hit some big threes and obviously Bayless’ last-second score gave the Bucks the win.

It’s interesting because those two players (Jerryd and Jared), along with Ersan Ilyasova and Zaza Pachulia, have been the only guys really playing with any sort of postseason-caliber intensity thus far – Antetokounmpo’s occasional angry face notwithstanding. But those guys are veterans, and they know how these things are supposed to go. Truthfully, the vets give Milwaukee a better shot to win games in this series, but does Kidd go ahead with a game plan built around that idea for Game 5, or does he play his kids and get them the experience they’ll need to be a bigger threat in years to come?

Who Wins Game 5?

This series is over, obviously. Teams don’t rebound from 0-3, but Milwaukee has looked better every game this series. It’s easy to see them stealing another game, but Chicago is the better team and has a great opportunity to put it away at home on Monday. Expect them to do so, though not comfortably.

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Joel Brigham is a senior writer for Basketball Insiders, covering the Central Division and fantasy basketball.

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