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.”

Bulls announce substitute broadcasters for first five Neil Funk-less games


Bulls announce substitute broadcasters for first five Neil Funk-less games

If you haven't heard, Neil Funk is cutting 20 road games from his 2018-19 Bulls' play-by-play schedule.

Friday, the Bulls announced that Adam Amin, Andy Demetra and Kyle Draper will fill in for Funk for the first five of those games.

Amin, a play-by-play commentator for ESPN, will games on Oct. 22 against the Mavericks and Nov. 14 against the Celtics. He grew up in Addison, resides in Chicago and also does play-by-play for Bears preseason games.

Demetra is from Oak Brook and currently is the play-by-play broadcaster for Georgia Tech basketball and football. He will call games on Oct. 26 against the Hornets and Oct. 27 against the Hawks. He has previous play-by-play experience with the SEC Network, Pac-12 Network and Fox Sports South.

Draper will call the Bulls' Nov. 7 game against the Pelicans. He is the Celtics' pregame and postgame host for NBC Sports Boston and an occasional play-by-play annoucer and sideline reporter for the Celtics.

The Bulls said they will continue providing updates on substitute broadcasters as they are scheduled.

Pistons have the look of a playoff team in wide open East


Pistons have the look of a playoff team in wide open East

Finishing 9th in the Eastern Conference last season cost Stan Van Gundy his job as Pistons head coach and President of Basketball Operations. Van Gundy was replaced on the bench by 2017-18 Coach of the Year Dwane Casey, who was fired after the Raptors were swept by Cleveland in the conference semi-finals.

Casey’s job in Detroit is to find a way to develop the young players on the roster while getting the team to the playoffs. He has a pair of All-Star caliber players in the front court, Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, along with highly-paid, erratic point guard Reggie Jackson.

Griffin has battled injuries in recent seasons, but Van Gundy decided to roll the dice at mid-season a year ago by trading Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley AND a 1st round pick to the Clippers for the former slam dunk champion in a desperate bid to save his job. The trade didn’t work out for Van Gundy, but it’s possible Griffin could enjoy a resurgence in Detroit this season.

The 29-year-old power forward scored 26 points, pulled down eight rebounds and dished out six assists in the Pistons’ 103-100 win over Brooklyn on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Drummond had a monster game with 24 points and 20 rebounds. As Bulls fans know all too well, Drummond has made the 20 rebound game commonplace when facing Fred Hoiberg’s squad in recent years.

As for Jackson, a severely sprained right ankle limited him to just 45 games last season, probably costing Detroit a chance to make the playoffs. The 8th year pro is lightning quick, with the ability to disrupt defenses by getting into the paint and challenging bigger defenders at the rim. Jackson scored 19 points in the season opener against Brooklyn, and he’ll be a problem for the Bulls Saturday night, especially if Kris Dunn is unavailable.

Casey is still trying to figure out how to use the rest of the roster Van Gundy built, with recent 1st round pick Henry Ellenson and former rotation player Jon Leuer getting DNP-CD’s against the Nets. Meanwhile, two other expected rotation players, small forward Stanley Johnson and swingman Reggie Bullock missed the opener because of injuries.

That left second year guard Luke Kennard and 2018 2nd round draft pick Bruce Brown as the other starters in game one, something that’s unlikely to continue once everyone’s healthy.

So, how do the Bulls even their record at 1-1 on Saturday? Here are my three keys:

1. Keep Drummond and Griffin off the offensive boards. This is much easier said than done. Drummond in particular is relentless going after missed shots, and his bulk will cause problems for 19 year old rookie Wendell Carter Jr. Hoiberg hinted at possible line-up changes on Friday morning, which could include starting veteran Robin Lopez at center to battle Drummond inside. Griffin has turned into more of a jump shooter now and doesn’t have the multiple jump capability that characterized his early seasons in the NBA, but he’s still a threat to create 2nd shot opportunities.

2. Close out on three-point shooters. Of all the defensive issues for the Bulls in Philadelphia on Thursday, losing touch with shooters in transition was probably the most troublesome. Robert Covington seemed to be open at the three-point line throughout the game, and Bulls players struggled to handle cross-match situations. Kennard had one of the best games of his rookie season against the Bulls, and Jackson, Ish Smith and Langston Galloway are all capable of heating up from long distance.

3. Attack Detroit’s interior defense. The Bulls were at their best offensively in the first quarter against Philadelphia when they drove to the basket to set up easy scoring chances. Zach LaVine was getting to the rim at will in scoring 15 of his 30 points in the opening 12 minutes, and his penetration also set up Bobby Portis for open looks from the three-point line. Hopefully, Dunn will return to stabilize the point guard position and give the Bulls' first unit another shot creator so they can sustain their pace and scoring potential over four quarters.

Saturday’s home opener is definitely winnable against a Detroit team still finding its way under a new coaching staff. Better effort and attention to detail on the defensive end along with a fast-paced, drive and kick offensive attack should make for an exciting opening night at the United Center.

Make sure to join Kendall Gill, Will Perdue, Kelly Crull and me for a special one hour edition of Bulls Pre-Game Live at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago and the new My Teams app, followed by the play by play call with Neil Funk and Stacey King at 7 p.m. And, stay tuned after the final buzzer for reaction and analysis on an expanded edition of Bulls Postgame Live.