Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks are in town, and reinforcements are on the way.
Those reinforcements take the form of Daniel Gafford, who was recalled from Windy City in the wake of Luke Kornet undergoing a procedure to address a sinus obstruction.
"I'm excited for him," Jim Boylen said — with a smile — pregame, of Gafford. "He's just my kind of guy."
He certainly fills the archetype of a Boylen favorite: hard-nosed, athletic, defensive-minded — but in his time with Chicago this season, most of his playing time has come in garbage time (he's played 12 total minutes over four games this season). Boylen wasn't specific about how much run Gafford would see in his first game back, but committed to a four-big lineup (with Gafford sliding into the Kornet spot) and said the rook would likely see action in the first half.
"Just play hard, man," Boylen said when asked what he'd like to see out of Gafford in this stint. "Just run somebody over, knock somebody down, play hard."
Boylen went on to not only praise the skills Gafford brings to the table as a rim-protector and rim-runner, but also the positive attitude he maintained in the face of a tumultuous start to his rookie season. In three games across multiple short stints with the Windy City Bulls this year — playing in an offensive scheme that Boylen said closely aligns with the Bulls' own — Gafford averaged 17.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, while shooting a mind-bending 80.6% from the field.
"I went down there, did what I had to do, went for rebounds, basically did all the dirty stuff," Gafford said of his assignment. "I was trying to be a team guy, energy guy — my game."
That philosophy is like to come in handy against a long, rangy and supremely physical Bucks team that outscored the Bulls 70-32 in the paint when the two squared off in Milwaukee last Thursday. These are two of the highest-volume three-point shooting teams in the league, but Gafford knows his role will be that of an enforcer.
"Just coming in and being an energy guy, getting rebounds. Put pressure on the rim to where, 'Hey, you can't come in and just get anything easy,'" Gafford said of his role with the team.
The Bulls have struggled in all of those departments early in the 2019 season — they enter tonight the worst shooting team at the rim in the NBA, 28th in rebounding rate and 28th in blocks per game.
But tonight... Rims, basketballs, Bucks players and everyone and thing in between: Beware. Daniel Gafford is here, and he's taking names.
"You either gonna get hit, I'm gonna block the shot, or you're gonna have to dunk on me," Gafford said on visitors to the painted area he'll inhabit tonight. "If you dunk on me, I'll give you props, and we'll go down and get a bucket on you."
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