Bulls Punched, Bucks Punched Back
There's an ancient philosophical paradox you may have heard of before. It involves these two entities. One is referred to as an irresistible force; the other, an immovable object. The Milwaukee Bucks are neither of those.
We took a rough one on Friday night, Chicago; there's no doubting that. I've fought off just about everyone I could have from telling me their thoughts on the recapping of the game because I didn't need it. I was there. And first off, can we all just agree that if you think booing your own team because they start to perform poorly is going to be at all helpful to anyone or is ever an acceptable practice, that you are a complete piece of human garbage, and you need to be shunned and banned from sporting events for your entire existence? Okay, great; glad we all unanimously agree on that. Moving on. Instead of leaving at half, as some did, at the end of the third, as others, or at two minutes, as most, I stayed the entire game and some to thoroughly ponder what I had just paid to witness. And here's the good news, Bulls Nation, it's really not all that bad. I think the analysis of why we lost and lost so significantly can be explained relatively simply.
-Pass the Buck
-Playing to a Set Defense
The Bulls shot 33 for 84, giving a final field goal percentage of 39.3, and our 3-point percentage was even worse at 26.5. Nothing was going in, frankly, until the bench was put in at the end of the game after we had already assumed our impending defeat. Now, why did this happen? The Bulls had a rough shooting night on their first conquest in Milwaukee game one as well, but the Bucks balanced it out by not shooting tremendous either so it failed to stand out as much. The answer to why lies in the following two sections of the breakdown. The wrong people had the ball at the right times, and the right people had the ball at the wrong times. And the Bucks were cemented almost every time the Bulls were within range of the basket. Those two things... cannot happen.
Pass the Buck
I understand quick rotations of the ball can lead to finding the open man, I understand it can confuse the defense, I understand it can lead to a quick cut, but the amount of times I saw the Bulls drive down, setup, and pass the buck around the horn aimlessly, only to find it in the hands of Javonte or Vooch frightened me. The whole purpose of those rotations is to get a kick out to a trusted three-point shooter or to open a hole in the D you can exploit, but zero percent of the time did it develop as such; that is a huge problem. The right shooters were afraid to take the shot when they didn't have the absolute best of looks, and the open man was usually someone you don't want hoisting it up at that moment. The Bucks used this same strategy effectively by getting the cross pass to Allen a lot, who repeatedly made us pay. We have to make sure that if we're going to use this tactic in game four, the ball winds up in capable hands.
Playing to a Set Defense
This was the final dagger in Big Ben's inflatable heart on Friday. Playing over and over and over to a set defense. I mean, not even just set. By the time we got the ball up the court, the Bucks had laid down tablecloths and called their mothers to check and see how things were going back home. It was snail's paced at best. I have said it all season, and I'll probably have to say it forever, but the Bulls are at their best when they break fast and drive hard to the net. Why haven't we been? Well, I would say that's pretty easy to figure out.
DeMar refuses to play that way. In his sage wisdom, he doesn't think it's ever necessary to push it up the count at any registered speed, not his style; I get it, but as far as Zach goes, sad to say but the man is still playing with a bum knee, and I know if his body could take it every drive he would generate those fast breaks for us. He was even asked about it post-game. "I've been limping all season, bro; I'm gonna be alright." He even laughed when asked the very question because it's gotten old. You can't not take into account an active injury, and you can't take the man out of the game because we don't have anyone nearly as good to replace him. He was asked about pushing the ball up court faster and recognized what needed to be done and what I liked most from him was that he wasn't rattled, he wasn't down, he wasn't even phased, he was factual. That's the face, and the mindset of a franchise you love to see. Sapient men play the long game. And the bruised must be cunning. And we must, as Zach put it best, "Match force with force."
The Bulls will have a chance to do just that in Game 4 at high noon on Madison Street.
Horns High, Chicago,
-RM Kamm (IG: @rmkamm.wrote / Twitter: @RM_Kamm)