Bulls

Game 1: The 5 most important statistics from Bulls-Bucks

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Game 1: The 5 most important statistics from Bulls-Bucks

The Bulls began their 2015 NBA Playoffs in impressive fashion on Saturday, knocking off the Milwaukee Bucks, 103-91, in Game 1. Here's a look at the five statistics that most directly related to the outcome:

42: Number of points Derrick Rose was responsible for

Derrick Rose headlined Game 1 by scoring 23 points on 9-for-16 shooting and handing out seven assists, making easy work of counterpart Michael Carter-Williams and logging a game-high +13 in just 27 minutes. Looking further into those dimes, specifically, five of those seven helpers resulted in 3-point makes. That means Rose was responsible for 42 of the Bulls' 103 points. IN fact, the Bulls scored 66 points in Rose's minutes, meaning he was responsible for more than 63 percent of the Bulls' points while on the floor. What a game from the former MVP.

0: Bucks who finished with a positive rating

A 12-point victory wasn't necessarily a blowout victory for the Bulls, but consider that no one on the Bucks finished with a positive +/-; only Zaza Pachulia finished with a 0. The other four starters combined for a -32, while the Bulls' five starters managed a +53. In the bench department, the Bulls reserves were a +7 (Tony Snell was the only Bull with a negative +/-, at -6) while the Bucks reserves totaled a -28. Four of the Bucks' top contributors were making their postseason debut, so this isn't a surprising stat; still, it's a stellar sign for the Bulls that no one the Bucks was able to make a positive rating during their time on the floor. The Bulls were dominant throughout in Game 1.

[MORE BULLS: GM Gar Forman addresses minutes restrictions]

4+: Number of assists each Bulls starter handed out

The Bulls were tied for 14th in the NBA this season at 21.7 assists per game and 11th in assists per field goals made (59.6 percent). But in Game 1 the Bulls took advantage of one of the Bucks' weak spots in their top-5 defense, finding open teammates for baskets. The Bulls assisted on 30 of their 38 made field goals, or 78.9 percent. And it wasn't just one player doing the damage; each of the Bulls starters recorded at least four assists. The Bulls' ball movement was impeccable, from Derrick Rose driving to Pau Gasol passing out of double teams. The cliche of passing up good shots for great ones applied to the Bulls in Game 1, and they made the most of it. Each of the four Bulls reserves who saw action also recorded an assist.

19: Bulls turnovers

If there was one downside from the Bulls' Game 1 victory, it was that they were careless with the basketball much of the night. Yes, the 30 assists were a positive sign, but the Bucks defense thrives on creating turnovers and they did just that. The Bucks led the NBA in that category, forcing 17.4 turnovers per game, one the main reasons they ranked second in the NBA in defensive efficiency. Further, 11 of those turnovers were of the live-ball variety, with the Bucks creating 25 points off the 19 miscues. It's an impressive feat the Bulls were able to score 103 points with 19 dead possessions, and if the Bulls can cut down on the turnovers the Bucks won't have an answer.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Buy a Derrick Rose jersey]

35: Jimmy Butler's minutes

In 17 playoff games Jimmy Butler appeared in the past two seasons, he averaged 41.6 minutes per game. He topped 38 minutes in 13 of those games, and played in fewer than 35 minutes in the other four. So while it may not seem like an important factor that Butler played just 35 minutes in Game 1, consider if the Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers both advance Butler is going to log 40+ minutes each game defending LeBron James. Butler led the NBA at 38.7 minutes per game this season, so any rest he can get while the Bulls can maintain leads - Chicago was +1 in 13 minutes Butler wasn't on the floor - it's a positive. Butler will be key to knocking off the Bucks in guarding Giannis Antetokounmpo, but he's going to earn his paycheck in Round 2 against the East favorites.

Three Things to Watch: Bulls-76ers

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Bulls-76ers

The Bulls square off against the Sixers tonight on NBC Sports Chicago, with coverage beginning at 6:30 with Bulls Pregame Live. Here are three things to watch as the Bulls begin the stretch run of their regular season.

1. The new rotation: Most of the Bulls’ rotation looks the same, but the addition of David Nwaba, Cristiano Felicio and Cameron Payne will have a different feel. The Bulls clearly want to get a look at these guys before the end of the regular season, meaning they’re not just going to get sporadic minutes. They’ll have to play through their mistakes, play out-matched at times and be put in uncomfortable situations. But the Bulls need to see what they have, especially in Payne, who has missed the entire season to this point with a broken foot.

2. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons: They’re quite the 1-2 punch and have the Sixers looking at their first playoff appearance since Derrick Rose hadn’t yet torn an ACL. Yeah, that’s a long time. Embiid just finished his first All-Star appearance (starting in his second year) and Simmons is the front runner for Rookie of the Year. The Bulls will have their hands full with these two. Luckily…

3. Kris Dunn is back: The Bulls wanted to get Dunn some run before heading to All-Star Weekend to play in the Rising Stars Challenge, and he looked healthy in that thumping against the Raptors last week. The good news is John Paxson says Dunn won’t be on a minutes limit, which means he’s healthy. That, of course, is more important than how he’s playing. It’ll be fun to see him, LaVine and Markkanen play together down the stretch. Their numbers together aren’t great, but the Bulls are 2-2 with all three in the lineup, and tanking or not…it’s more fun to watch when those three are rolling. 

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Of Bulls and Blackhawks, which team will finish with higher draft pick?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Of Bulls and Blackhawks, which team will finish with higher draft pick?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun-Times), Hub Arkush (ProFootball Weekly) and Jason Goch (SB Nation) join Kap on the panel.

The guys debate which team will finish with a higher draft pick when the season ends: Bulls or Blackhawks?

Plus, hear their reaction to the MLB’s new pace-of-play rule change.

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: