Bulls

Three observations from the Bulls' 3-0 lead

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Three observations from the Bulls' 3-0 lead

MILWAUKEE — A few observations on the Bulls-Bucks series, where the Bulls can pull off a sweep and take a week of rest before the second round begins, presumably against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

1. The Milwaukee Bucks are giving them a great fight and will be a formidable foe in the future:

Like most teams down 3-0, the Bucks feel they’re a couple plays or moments away from being in this series or leading. That may be delusional thinking, but Khris Middleton did have a good look at the end of regulation Thursday night before the extra 10 minutes of basketball drained everyone in the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

[MORE: Goodwill: Game 3 provides Bucks, Bulls playoff lessons]

The Bulls certainly played with fire throughout, as the Bucks gave them all they could handle before succumbing late. But a nucleus of Michael Carter-Williams, Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker is an excellent foundation to a future power in the East. The Bucks are going to go away for the summer soon, but they’re not a flash in the pan for future references. They’re going to be a legit threat in what should be a vastly improved Eastern Conference in the next couple years.

2. This is a different Derrick Rose:

A lot has changed in the NBA since that day Derrick Rose went down with his gut-wrenching knee injury in 2012, but somehow he’s expected to be the same, reckless and consciousless player that won the 2011 MVP. Just because he’s missed, in his words, “damn near three years,” it doesn’t mean his interpretation of the game is supposed to retard. Sitting on the sidelines may have thrown off his timing but the way he processes the game has continued its maturation.

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If you’re expecting to see THAT Derrick Rose, you’ll be waiting. But a player who sees the floor better, who utilizes his teammates more and yes, a player who shoots that streaky perimeter jumper more (46 percent 3-point shooter in this series), that’s what Rose is. What he lacks in explosiveness, Rose has gained in basketball IQ. His defense on Michael Carter-Williams was magnificent late in Game 3, and he was often in the scrums retrieving loose balls, helping his big men out before starting his Sonic the Hedgehog fast break. He hasn’t completely lost what made him special from an athletic standpoint; He’s more selective about when to employ his athleticism compared to using his brain, which should be a welcome sight.

3. Rose and Jimmy Butler play off each other better than expected:

Rose and Butler each have the ability to take over stretches of playoff games, which isn’t a surprise. But the way they’ve complemented each other while the other goes on a game-changing run should be noted. In Game 2, Butler tattooed his name on the game late, hitting jumpers and driving to the basket to close the Bucks out. But Rose did his part in feeding Butler and staying aggressive without disrupting Butler’s flow — a fine line to balance.

In Game 3, Butler did the same for Rose, concentrating a lot of energy on defense (note that step-in-front steal to start the second overtime) while also making himself enough of a threat to keep the Bucks from keying solely on Rose. If nothing else, the Bucks’ defensive intensity is great preparation for a Cleveland Cavaliers team that sorely lacks in that category — as Butler and Rose getting to know each other better here can only bode well for down the line.

Bulls crack the top 20 of Forbes' most valuable sports franchises

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USA TODAY

Bulls crack the top 20 of Forbes' most valuable sports franchises

The Bulls' franchise is heading in the right direction on the court, and it's doing pretty great off it, too.

Forbes released its annual ranking of the top 50 most valuable sports franchises, and the Bulls are back in the top 20 with a valuation of $2.9 billion.

The Bulls are up from 23rd a year ago, when they were valued at $2.6 billion. They were 22nd in 2017 with a $2.5 billion valuation, and 18th in 2016 with a $2.3 billion valuation.

The Bulls were one of nine NBA franchises in the top 50. That number was one more than last year.

Here's a list of all nine NBA teams that made the cut:

1. New York Knicks ($4 billion)
2. Los Angeles Lakers ($3.7 billion)
3. Golden State Warriors ($3.5 billion)
4. Chicago Bulls ($2.9 billion)
5. Boston Celtics ($2.8 billion)
6. Brooklyn Nets ($2.35 billion)
7. Houston Rockets ($2.3 billion)
8. Dallas Mavericks ($2.25 billion)
9. Los Angeles Clippers ($2.2 billion)

As Forbes noted in the piece, "NBA teams have made the most dramatic moves this decade." Just seven years ago, the Lakers were valued at $900 million and were one of just two NBA teams (the Knicks were the other) in the top 50.

Among Chicago teams, the Bulls ranked second behind the Cubs ($3.1 billion) and tied with the Bears ($2.9 billion). Neither the Blackhawks nor the White Sox made the list.

Bulls will host Giannis Antetokounmpo, Zion Williamson as part of five-game preseason schedule

Bulls will host Giannis Antetokounmpo, Zion Williamson as part of five-game preseason schedule

The Bulls announced their 2019 preseason schedule on Tuesday, and they'll begin their five-game slate by hosting two of the most exciting players in the game.

They'll kick off their campaign on Monday, Oct. 7 with a matchup against reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. Milwaukee was the No. 1 seed in the East last year and signed Robin Lopez in the offseason.

Two days later, No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson comes to the United Center as the Bulls host the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Bulls then hit the road with contests against the Indiana Pacers (Oct. 11) and the Toronto Raptors (Oct. 13). They close their preseason slate at home against Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks on Oct. 17.

All five preseason games will air live on NBC Sports Chicago and the NBC Sports Chicago MyTeams app.