Bucks-Bulls Preview - NBC Sports

Bucks-Bulls Preview
April 26, 2015, 1:34 pm

The Milwaukee Bucks believe a dose of intensity will help them steal another win in the series, though the Chicago Bulls are vowing not to repeat their Game 4 mistakes.

With hopes of again staving off elimination Monday night, the young Bucks are aiming to deal the Bulls their first home loss since mid-March and win at United Center for the first time since December 2013.

After it led the league in forced turnovers during the regular season at 17.4 per game, Milwaukee's length and athleticism on the defensive end have given Chicago fits during this Eastern Conference series.

The Bucks have forced the Bulls into 20.0 giveaways per game - 6.0 more than Chicago's season average. They finished with 20 steals and coaxed the Bulls into a season-high 28 turnovers in Saturday's 92-90 win.

"We are going to have to be a lot stronger with the ball," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau told the team's official website. "They are coming through us. We are going to have to hold our ground."

Milwaukee stripped the ball from Derrick Rose as Chicago looked to close out a sweep on its final possession. At the other end, Jerryd Bayless burned the star point guard on a backdoor cut to lay in the winner at the buzzer.

The Bucks outscored the Bulls 39-25 on points off turnovers and have scored 96 off Chicago's 80 giveaways in four games.

"If we can run these guys off the line, and make them shoot tough, contested (2-pointers), we think we have a good chance," Bayless said. "We're still believing. We're not giving up on this series and we're going to keep going and see what happens."

Rose has been wildly inconsistent in the four contests, totaling 57 points on 21-of-39 shooting in Games 1 and 3 and scoring 29 while shooting 9 for 27 in Games 2 for 4. He finished with 14 points on 5-of-13 shooting Saturday and matched a playoff career high with eight turnovers - none more costly than in the final sequence.

"If this was the last game or Game 7, it would have been totally different," Rose said of his Game 4 struggles. "But we play again soon, so get this game out of my mind. We're going to come out and play hard. I can say that."

The Bulls should feel better about their chances back home, where they've won nine in a row by an average of 12.9 points. They also held the Bucks to an average of 86.0 points in winning the first two games there by a combined 21.

After snapping a nine-game playoff losing streak, Milwaukee now needs to halt a five-game skid at United Center to remain alive.

Although they're forcing turnovers, the Bucks haven't had an answer defensively for Jimmy Butler. The All-Star guard finished with a playoff career-high 33 points Saturday to go along with seven rebounds and three steals.

Butler, who also hit 5 of 7 from 3-point range, ranks among NBA leaders with 28.3 points per game this postseason.

"He's a great player playing at a high level and the rest of us have to be ready to make plays and make them pay for their commitment to certain players," said Pau Gasol, who has 33 points in the last two games after scoring 21 in the first two.

Milwaukee's O.J. Mayo had 18 points Saturday, Jared Dudley added 13 and five assists - including the pass to Bayless (10 points) on the winner - and the reserves outscored Chicago's 47-13 for a whopping 140-83 advantage in the series.

Nikola Mirotic had five points on 2-of-7 shooting in 20 minutes after missing Game 3 due to a bruised left knee and strained quadriceps. He's totaled 18 points in this series after averaging 17.7 over the last 23 of the regular season.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



Channel Finder