If Game 1 is the courting phase of a typical playoff series, the second game is usually the adjustment game, especially for a young team like the Milwaukee Bucks.
And considering Jason Kidd made a couple poignant comments after the game, one can surmise at the very least, more attention paid to and physical treatment to one Derrick Rose.
Rose got to the basket whenever he chose to in the Bulls’ 103-91 win Saturday, leading to the Bucks coach bemoaning how easy it was, believing it set up Rose to hit those three triples in the third that put some distance between the two teams.
“He showcased he can do layups very well,” Kidd said. “He got to the rim without resistance and whenever you do that, the jumpshots, the basket is big and he knocked those down in the second half.”
You don’t have to read between the lines to see what Kidd meant there, and it wouldn’t be stretch to see more aggressive play with Rose. The final score says one thing but the game was well within reach with eight minutes left in the third quarter before it was blown open. So Kidd likely believes Rose’s explosion merits more treatment.
“We were in a good seat,” Kidd said. “We had some layups that we couldn’t convert when we had the numbers. Now we gotta go back and look and figure out how to get one on Monday.”
The Bucks are already one of the league’s most versatile defensive teams, the single most impressive aspect that brought them from a 15-win team last season to a six-seed in the East.
“They’re a very good defensive team. They’ve been that all year,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “People have been physical with Derrick before. Derrick has a very unique skill set because he combines the power and strength with the speed and quickness. That type of stuff he handles very well.”
Thibodeau and Bulls reserve Taj Gibson agreed the series will only get more physical as it progresses. And it’s not like the Bucks gave the Bulls the kid gloves treatment in Game 1, as Pau Gasol and the rest of the bigs were knocking each other around like pinballs for most of the night.
“They’re doubling Pau more,” Thibodeau said. “They have a very aggressive defense, trapping dribble handoffs, pick-and-rolls, the low post. You gotta be ready to handle that.”
Gasol became a main point of attention due to his career-high 46-point game in an earlier meeting. It resulted in the Bucks meeting Gasol past halfcourt, knocking him off his spots and forcing him to take more jump shots. That approach worked in Game 1, as he shot just five for 17.
“I guess that made them react,” Gasol said. “Just like they’ll probably react to something we did yesterday differently. So we just got be ready for the adjustments that they’re going to make against us, read the game, and make it easy for each other.’’
But the Bucks have to pick and choose who they swarm, and the Bulls have three guys who can easily score 20 points in Gasol, Rose and Jimmy Butler. But Rose being the point guard means he has more control than the others.
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“It opens up the offense for a lot of other guys,” Gibson said. “It makes it much more easier, takes a load off Jimmy and Pau, guys that are struggling at first but get in a rhythm late. That’s real big for us late in the game, especially those big time 3-pointers when we need them.”
Gibson, who said he’s okay after straining his right knee in the second half, expects the intensity and physical play to ramp up from the Bucks.
“I feel better today,” Gibson said. “I’m starting to give a lot of respect to football players. When you go 100 miles per hour every play in the playoffs, things are gonna happen. But I feel fine.
“Yeah it’s gonna be more physical. I know that for a fact. After the first game every one is a lot more intense.”