Two things can be true:
(1) The Chicago Bulls’ performance last night was downright atrocious and worthy of the worst playoff home loss in franchise history (h/t K.C. Johnson).
(2) The loss is just another loss. Right, DeMar?
“Regardless, a loss is a loss. I would have felt the same way,” DeRozan said after last night’s 111-81 fumble to the Milwaukee Bucks. “Now, we have an opportunity to tie this thing up Sunday on our home court, and that’s what we’re going to go out there and do.”
• As I entered the United Center for the first home playoff game in five years, I had the joyful exuberance of a 6-year-old on Christmas morning. As I exited the United Center after easily one of the worst losses of the season, I had the gutted spirit of a 6-year-old who found out Santa wasn’t real on Christmas morning. I basically watched my mom place the presents under the tree and crumble the cookie in her hand. Couldn’t you at least try harder?
• I mean, seriously, a 16-point deficit in the first quarter is one thing, but a 37-point deficit in the 4th quarter!? Really!? While I was plenty concerned about the Bucks coming out angry and determined, I’m not sure I ever saw that outcome coming, especially after the fight this team showed over the first two games. Indeed, that was the most promising thing even in an ugly Game 1 loss: The Chicago Bulls came out swinging and didn’t hang their head. Last night’s effort, on the other hand, felt far closer to what we saw toward the end of the regular season. The Bulls were decked in the mouth and instantly curled into the fetal position. The question now is whether or not that is a sign of what’s to come or a wake-up call that re-enforces the value of what they did over the first two games.
“They were the aggressor tonight,” Donovan said. “I thought the difference, at least early, was they knocked down some shots. We obviously struggled to shoot the ball. I think in Game 1, both teams struggled to shoot, and I think in Game 2 both teams shot the ball a lot better. Tonight was a night where they shot the ball a lot better than we did. And I thought we lost our way when we had a hard time scoring and making shots.”
• I’m not sure if this will make anyone feel any better, but the Bucks also deserve a massive amount of credit for their execution across the board. They looked like the reigning champions from start to … well … until they got to put all their scrubs in, and it started with their defensive intensity. They played as locked in as we’ve seen them this series on that side of the ball, walling off the paint with a jumbo starting lineup of Bobby Portis, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Brook Lopez. Instead of trying to attack this group off the dribble and turn things into another slugfest, the Bulls settled for jumpers in an offense that lacked ball movement and creativity. Cody Westerlund of 670 The Score summed up the Bucks’ defensive performance well with one stat, sharing that the Bulls had just 14 points in the paint through three quarters on a 36 percent success rate. EW!
• Of course, what happened behind the arc proved to be just as soul-crushing. We knew the Bulls would have to win the 3-point battle to keep things competitive in this series, and they did the exact opposite on Friday night. Milwaukee sank 15 threes compared to Chicago’s 9-34 performance. Old friend Bobby Portis went 4-8 from downtown, setting the tone early with two of those makes in the first quarter. In fact, Portis’ presence as a whole clearly threw this Bulls team for a loop. He dropped 18 points with an absurd 16 rebounds in a +20 performance on the night. The Bulls need to do a much better job keeping him off the glass in Game 4 and exploiting that matchup on the offensive end.
• A major downside to getting a blowout (you know, other than the general embarrassment) is the extra rest for the opponent’s starters. Antetokounmpo got to play just 29 minutes thanks to his +36 performance, while Portis, Lopez, and Wes Matthews all clocked roughly 25 minutes. I think it’s safe to say they will be rather fresh for tomorrow afternoon’s 12:00 p.m. CT matchup.
• What else is there to say about this one? We can dissect a blowout loss all we want, but I think we have to wait until tomorrow to see just how much of it is a real concern. The great thing about the playoffs is you get a chance to right your wrongs and adjust against the same opponent. We now have to wait to see what that looks like from this group.
• He’s not wrong.
Kendrick Perkins said on Sportscenter that #Bulls players should be fined for their ugly performance in their Game 3 loss to Bucks and that the money should go directly back to the fans who spent money on tickets to attend.
— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) April 23, 2022
• I’m so sorry he had to see that.
Luol Deng in the house
— Rob Schaefer (@rob_schaef) April 23, 2022
• At least this is absolutely awesome.
The unconquerable Justin Hardy (@jhardy_32) — who played the season for @washubasketball with Stage 4 stomach cancer — is a guest of the Chicago Bulls at the United Center tonight. Lisa Salters and Jeff Van Gundy shared some of his remarkable story on the ABC telecast. pic.twitter.com/Azg9sVDMU9
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 23, 2022
• It’s a beautiful day for a ballgame.
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) April 23, 2022