The Chicago Bulls were inches away from shocking the world on Sunday. Despite poor performances from their star players, the Bulls had chances to dominate Game 1 in the first round of the Eastern Conference series against the Milwaukee Bucks.
With less than four minutes into the game, the teams tied with Chicago retaining possession. DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic all had strong, missy looks, while the Bucks were able to score at a rough time. The Bulls lost 93-86 but have shown they can stay with Milwaukee, even without their stars playing their true potential.
Kobe White’s offensive output was effective, although his minutes were choppy. The team’s overall defense has been its best since early February. The maneuvers were generally point-based and aggressive. They did a good job putting the wall on Antetokounmpo while he was driving by bringing charges that put him in bad trouble.
In the end, crime was the primary issue, as evidenced by the end result. In the NBA today, scoring less than 90 is not a good indicator of offensive flow. Bulls average 111 points per game. They averaged 25 points and failed to make an easy appearance in the last four minutes of play.
Upon entering Game 2, it will be necessary for coach Billy Donovan to make these three adjustments.
3. Zach LaVine got involved early
Momentum in Game 1 changed once Zach LaVine started. In the first half, he had only six shot attempts, three of which came at the end of shooting hours on penalties from DeMar DeRozan. Lavigne was clearly the second best player on the team, even while struggling with knee pain.
His ability to hit the edge and hit open jump shots has freed DeRozan all year long. During the team’s late-season slip, DeRozan began taking more shots and playing more volume than the singles basketball. The decision is understandable given his start to the season, but the team has come to be expected because of it.
By getting LaVine touches early, whether it’s through tailored plays or even putting him on the right-hand side of DeRozan, he has a chance of getting hot quickly. When it’s hot, the teams can’t help it, giving DeRozan more room to work in the iso.
Even when he’s not scoring, Lavigne has shown that he’s the best passer among the star rangers. He has the best chemistry with Nikola Vucevic. He found Vucevic lowered better than DeRozan and Caruso. When Vucevic eats in the mail, he’s able to make his way into the ocean and hit a beat with his jump shots.
LaVine also does a good job of hitting shooters early in the shot clock, giving them the opportunity to drive away from kicks rather than having to shoot a hasty three to avoid a spin.