Yesterday, I complained about how the NBA gave the Milwaukee Bucks a two-day break in between home games. Today, I complain about the 8:30 p.m. CT start time.
I’m seriously annoyed by this schedule-making. Someone get me on the phone with Adam Silver, please.
• In case you spent last night staring at a wall contemplating whether or not the Bulls will get swept, the New Orleans Pelicans provided us with a glimmer of hope. Thanks to a monster performance from Brandon Ingram and some untimely hamstring tightness for Devin Booker, the Pelicans shockingly pulled off the 125-114 victory in Phoenix. The series is now tied 1-1 heading back to Louisiana.
"That's a big 🤬 win!"
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) April 20, 2022
• Not only did many believe the Pelicans would fall short of the playoff picture, but I also think it’s safe to say this felt like it could be one of the quickest series on the board. The Suns were an NBA-best 64-18 in the regular season, while the Pelicans sat comfortably under-.500 with a roster full of inexperienced talent. Is it still possible the Suns go on to finish this in five games? Absolutely, and I have to assume many would bet on that exact thing to happen. But last night’s game serves as another reminder of how unpredictable the NBA playoffs can be. One big-time performance or one key injury could be all it takes to push a game in your direction.
• Can DeMar DeRozan or Zach LaVine supply that big-time performance? The Bulls’ two All-Stars went a combined 12-44 from the field in Game 1, each finishing the night with just 18 points. Thanks to Milwaukee’s own poor shooting effort, both failing to find their groove didn’t feel as consequential as it could have, but I find it hard to believe we’ll see the Bucks shoot that poorly again. At least one of the two has to put together a bounceback showing tonight, and I’m looking at DeRozan as the most likely candidate.
• When re-watching the action on Tuesday, I found myself content with almost every shot DeRozan chucked up. He simply bricked several looks we saw him knockdown during the regular season, as his overall shot chart reflected a lot of what we’re used to seeing. To be clear, I give credit to the Bucks’ defense for getting in his airspace without fouling, but I truly believe Sunday night was more about DeRozan’s cold hand than what the Bucks did on defense. After all, he didn’t even have the team’s best defender (Jrue Holiday) on him for the bulk of his offensive possessions. Wes Matthews spent the most time guarding DeRozan and Middleton came in second, according to NBA Stats head-to-head matchup data. Let’s hope the team keeps it that way tonight and DeRozan can shake off the rust.
• I just want to see Zach LaVine get to the basket. As I touched on yesterday, only six of LaVine’s 19 shot attempts came within 4ft of the rim, and he only found himself at the free-throw line for four attempts. While I understand the Bucks allow plenty of solid looks from behind the arc, I’d like to see LaVine focus more on putting his head down and putting pressure on the cup. LaVine is one of the more explosive and athletic drivers in the league, so much so that he should be able to give one of the more formidable rim-protecting teams trouble. Not to mention, this could prove to be a great way to keep Giannis Antetokounmpo and Co. in foul trouble, which was a critical element of Game 1.
• Of course, I type these words about the offense hoping the defense stays as aggressive as it did this weekend. The Bulls put up a surprisingly physical fight and held Milwaukee to one of their poorer scoring efforts of the entire season. Don’t get me wrong, they need to play even crisper on this end of the floor to pull off a victory, but what we saw on Sunday set a good foundation. Double at the right time, rotate well, and play with active hands.
I was pleasantly surprised with the Bulls' defensive intensity on Sunday night, but as Billy Donovan said, it's "just the price of admission."
Hoping the Bulls can bring that same energy tonight. Would be HUGE to steal one.
Some more thoughts ⬇️https://t.co/WFH443KNqH
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) April 20, 2022
• I give Patrick Williams a pass for his underwhelming postseason debut. Having to guard Antetokounmpo in your first-ever playoff game at age 20 is pretty darn terrifying, so I can’t blame him for not showing the same aggressiveness we saw toward the end of the regular season. With that said, a layer of rust should now be gone. Not only do we have to see him provide an even more active presence around the rim as a rebounder, but he has to be confident enough to put more than three shot attempts up tonight, especially if guys like DeRozan and LaVine continue to struggle.
• I giggled.
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) April 20, 2022
• Happy “God Disguised as Michael Jordan” Day!
“That wasn’t Michael Jordan out there. That was God disguised as Michael Jordan.” – Larry Bird
36 years ago today, a 2nd-year MJ did this in a Playoff loss to the Boston Celtics: 63 PTS (22/41 FG, 0/0 3PT), 6 AST, 5 REB, 3 STL, 2 BLK pic.twitter.com/YsuglQW0Ci
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) April 20, 2022
• The Fighting Illini All-American big man is headed to the NBA. Anyone up for an Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn reunion!?
NEXT CHAPTER 🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/Wz6xzAUl51
— King Kofi (@kxng_alpha) April 20, 2022
• Heads up:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) April 20, 2022
• BRING HIM TO ME.
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) April 20, 2022