Bucks may try to get more physical in Game 2 vs. Bulls


Bucks may try to get more physical in Game 2 vs. Bulls

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.”

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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.”

[MORE: Rose's return to the big stage met by hopeful crowd]

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.”

Draft night highlighted the unfulfilling feeling of this past Bulls season

Draft night highlighted the unfulfilling feeling of this past Bulls season

The door has officially been closed on the 2017-18 season for the Chicago Bulls, and the word that most comes to mind is “unfulfilling.”

Or maybe even “indistinguishable.”

Draft night was supposed to be a culmination of a painful seven-month stretch that only had occasional yet costly moments of light.

Death lineup? Meet Death March. And Death April, while we’re at it.

The Bulls brass sold everyone on a full rebuild after trading Jimmy Butler one year ago, with an unspoken promise that this draft would bear franchise-changing fruit—hence the general feeling of angst or even indifference with the solid selection of Wendell Carter Jr. and their not-so-secret affection of Chandler Hutchison.

It was why fans believe the Bulls got cold feet about trading to move up, and why they believe the Bulls weren’t being pragmatic in staying away from Michael Porter Jr.

Porter, some believe, has star written all over him given his prep ranking this time last year and the Bulls were in position to speed up this process without having to go into a painful Process.

They were desperate for a star, believing the tankathon had produced so much suffering it had to be something on the back end.

There was the fight (or the punch).

The aftermath.

The miserable 3-20 start.

The 14-7 streak that produced the audacity of hope.

The reality that 14-7 was damaging enough to the lottery chances that a 3-11 finish couldn’t rectify.

And finally, the coin flip that cost them five spots in the lottery one month ago.

So that empty feeling has less to do with Carter and Hutchison, who’ve done nothing to earn the “blah” reaction from the fan base and some media. It has everything to do with the unanswered questions over the last 82 games and lack of clarity over the three hauls from draft night last year.

It’s not that Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn underperformed individually last season, but the lack of cohesiveness due to injuries and circumstances has led to the varying thoughts.

LaVine is approaching restricted free agency and by all accounts is taking his continuing rehab in Washington very seriously.  Markkanen has added plenty of muscle since the offseason began, appearing as if he can play Michael B. Jordan’s in-ring foil in the next installation of “Creed” as Ivan Drago’s long lost son.

And despite the report about Dunn not working as hard on the floor this offseason, that would be more of a concern if this were late August, not June.

The last time they were seen together on the floor, they looked no closer to a pecking order than the day they arrived.

What we know is that they’re productive NBA players, capable of putting an individual tattoo on a game at a moment’s notice, skillful enough to take your breath away.

And for whatever reason, the expectations changed once the three displayed they could be dynamic on their own—a star needed to be anointed and groomed to go with the star they believed was coming their way after the season.

Management is fully behind Markkanen, but Paxson’s strong words about LaVine at the season-ending news conference illustrated how much it feels LaVine has to prove next season.

With his restricted free agency status looming, the Bulls’ initial offer will show how much they value him until and if he gets a better deal on the market.

And the fact the Bulls weren’t afraid to draft Trae Young while having a healthy debate about Collin Sexton on draft night has to show they have at least some skepticism about the future at point guard.

But stars—developing stars, acquired stars, drafted stars—have to do it on their own. No amount of promotion or prodding from management will validate their faith, if that’s the route the Bulls choose to go.

This has to be a meritocracy or it won’t work and, honestly, it’s time for a reality check.

All the worry about the Bulls getting back to title contention sooner rather than later seems like folks getting ahead of themselves.

The front office has taken its share of shots from media and fans, so some questioning is earned but they’re right about one thing. Rebuilds aren’t completed in a day or 12 months.

Expecting some magic potion to arrive in the form of a top draft pick isn’t going to cure what ills this roster, and it doesn’t seem likely all the cap space will result in a free agent choosing the Bulls over the usual suspects.

However, methodical building can look like complacency if not done with a sense of urgency.

And with urgency in mind, this past season was unsatisfying to say the least—heading into the next phase with two more young pieces to develop while the first three are still in the evaluation stage.

Loyola's March Madness hero Donte Ingram will play with Bulls' Summer League team

Loyola's March Madness hero Donte Ingram will play with Bulls' Summer League team

Donte Ingram's 2018 keeps getting better and better.

The March Madness hero, who buried a game-winning 3-pointer in the first round of Loyola's win over Miami, will play on the Bulls' Summer League team.

Ingram, a Simeon Academy graduate, had himself an incredible senior season with the Ramblers, who advanced all the way to the Final Four as a No. 11 seed.

In five NCAA Tournament games Ingram averaged 7.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists for the Ramblers. He also had 18 points in the MVC Conference Championship Game to secure the Ramblers' March Madness berth.

He'll join first-round draft picks Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison on the Las Vegas Summer League team, which will begin play early next month.