Bulls

Bucks heading home with confidence: 'Now it's our turn'

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Bucks heading home with confidence: 'Now it's our turn'

The Milwaukee Bucks are 0-16 all-time in playoff series in which they lose the first two games. But these Bucks are determined to break that streak.

They find themselves in this situation after dropping Game 2 on Monday, two days after a 12-point loss in the series opener.

But despite returning to Milwaukee without a win, Jason Kidd's group is confident they can replicate the Bulls' home success in Games 3 and 4.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

"Hell yeah," said O.J. Mayo, when asked if they still believe they can stay competitive. "It’s a playoff series. (The Bulls) did what they were supposed to do. They got home court advantage, they won two games. Go back to Milwaukee and we’ve got to take care of business.

"We tried to come in here and steal one and they protected home. Now it’s our turn."

They still have obvious kinks to work out, specifically better ball movement, but they leave Chicago on somewhat of a high note, being within two possessions late in their Game 2 loss after playing even with the Bulls through a half in Game 1. In the first two games, they forced the Bulls into 34 turnovers, limited All-Star Pau Gasol with suffocating double-teams and, for a team with four core players making their playoff debuts, got their first taste of postseason basketball.

They posted a 23-18 home record in the regular season, including a 95-91 win over the Bulls on April 1. Derrick Rose hadn't yet returned from knee surgery in that contest, but the Bucks owned the glass in that game, got positive contributions from Michael Carter-Williams (21 points) and Mayo (13 points) and closed with a strong fourth quarter to earn the victory.

[RELATED: Bucks get physical in attempt to swing series vs. Bulls]

That win was a learning experience, as were Games 1 and 2 in this series. Leading scorer Khris Middleton said after the game that the Bucks were noticeably better on Monday than they were on Saturday, and that he expected that to continue in Game 3.

"We lost these two, but we're going to fight to get this series back," he said. "We're going to defend our home court on Thursday."

Bulls Talk Podcast: The ultimate Bulls briefing to get you ready for Opening Night

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: The ultimate Bulls briefing to get you ready for Opening Night

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski sits down with Kendall Gill and Will Perdue to discuss all the need-to-know topics to get you ready for the season opener. The guys analyze how Lauri’s injury will make its mark on the early season rotation, whether Jabari will return to the starting unit or embrace the 6th-man role and why Portis betting on himself is the right move. Plus, Kendall has the key to unlock a “6th Man of the Year” award for Portis this season.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below:

'Underdog' Tyler Ulis will fit in just fine with these Bulls

'Underdog' Tyler Ulis will fit in just fine with these Bulls

It's been a whirlwind of a summer for point guard Tyler Ulis, but he finally feels like he's found a home. Literally.

The 5-foot-9 point guard was cut by the Suns in late June, latched on with a training camp invite by the Warriors and was subsequently waived on Friday. It was then that Ulis, working out in California, received a call from his agent. He had been claimed on waivers by the Chicago Bulls. His hometown Bulls.

"I grew up watching (the Bulls)," he said after his first practice on Tuesday. "Growing up in this city, you always want to be a Bull and you’re always willing and hoping that you’ll be here one day...I'm home now. It's a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to it."

Ulis is back in Chicago for the first time since he was breaking records for Marian Catholic High School. Ulis became a five-star recruit for the Spartans and in 2014 signed on as the next point guard in the long line of successful floor generals under John Calipari and Kentucky.

Ulis backed up the Harrison twins, Andrew and Aaron, as a freshman but saw his role increase as a sophomore. He blossomed, earning Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors in the SEC. Only Anthony Davis had ever earned both honors in a single season.

He declared for the 2016 NBA Draft with hopes of becoming a first-round pick. But unlike the Calipari point guards before him, Ulis slipped all the way down to the second round before the Phoenix Suns scooped him up with the 34th pick.

"Honestly I really did think (the Bulls) were going to draft me," Ulis said on Tuesday when recalling the 2016 NBA Draft. The Bulls took Denzel Valentine with the 14th pick. "But I'm here now so that's all that matters."

In 132 games, Ulis averaged 7.6 points and 4.1 assists in 21.1 minutes. He started 58 of those games, and while his shooting left plenty to be desired he handled the offense well and brought that same pesky defense he showed off at Kentucky. It wasn't enough, even for the guard-deprived Suns. They released Ulis before free agency this summer - which ruffled the feathers of franchise guard Devin Booker - in a rather unexpected move.

"My Mom always taught me (to) never expect anything," Ulis said of his release from the Suns. "When you're on a losing team like that anything can happen. I feel like I showed I could play at this level but they went a different way."

The Suns' loss - they may resort to starting 38-year-old Jamal Crawford at point guard this year - could be the Bulls' gain. Expectations should be harnessed for Ulis, especially with him joining the roster this late in the preseason, but the Bulls, like Phoenix, have question marks at the point.

Kris Dunn is entrenched as the starter, but Cameron Payne struggled mightily in the preseason and Ryan Arcidiacono doesn't project as a contributor. That leaves an opening for Ulis to potentially fill on the second unit, and apparently he's making a statement early in practice.

"Tyler had a real good practice," Fred Hoiberg said. "I think I think he changes the pace when he’s out there on the floor. He picks up full-court, he gets up underneath you. He can make a shot. He’s got good vision and can make a play with the ball in his hand. So I was very impressed with his first workout."

Ulis is working on a 45-day two-way contract, so it's unknown how much he'll contribute. He could be shuttled back and forth between Chicago and the Windy City Bulls, but there's certainly an opportunity for him to stick. He'll be playing catch-up and learning on the go, but doing so in his hometown wth friends and family around him for support will work to his advantage.

"Being a smaller guard growing up in a big man’s sport, you get looked over. So I’m the underdog," he said. "And I feel like this team is an underdog, so we should all be excited to get the season started and prove people wrong."