When Brook Lopez opened the game with back-to-back 3-pointers, and Giannis Antetokounmpo followed with an easy dunk after getting the DeMar DeRozan switch, things felt like they were about to get ugly.
The Bulls had come into the night still licking their wounds after a 4-1 beatdown in the playoffs one year prior. And while a nice win over the Boston Celtics served as a reminder of how well this team can play, a road battle with the Bucks still felt like a hurdle they weren’t ready to overcome.
But that’s why you play the game.
The Chicago Bulls may have just had their best regular season win of the past two seasons. While there is a chance I wake up tomorrow and feel as if that is a reactionary response, I can’t help but think there is a genuine argument to be made.
For a full 48 minutes, this team played with a kind of relentless heart and hustle that we just haven’t seen before. They didn’t back down to the most dominant player in the NBA, and they hit the biggest shots of the night when they mattered most. It was a truly fearless display of two-way execution – one that could very well lead to a full-season turnaround.
What made this win particularly outstanding was the play on the defensive side of the ball. Not only was the team playing with some of the most physical basketball we’ve seen from them, but their help, rotations, and general activity level were borderline exceptional. They held the Bucks to just 31.6 percent shooting from behind the arc and forced them into 19 TOVs (which led to 17 points for Chicago).
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, the Bulls shot a hair under 50.0 percent and hit a season-high 18 3-pointers. Their efficient game against the best team in the NBA came thanks to the same unselfish ball movement we saw throughout Monday’s victory over Boston. Additionally, the role players’ ability to step up and knock down key buckets proved pivotal. Coby White nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to tie the game and then take the lead with roughly one minute remaining.
The Bulls have now earned themselves their first regular season win in Milwaukee since December 26, 2017. For an organization that has repeatedly struggled to play competitive basketball against the top teams in the Eastern Conference, this week has felt like the Bulls making a statement. Now, they’ll have to keep it up on this taxing road trip for anyone to be truly convinced that the script has flipped in Chicago, but this is one heck of a start.
More tomorrow. Go drink happy drinks!
Check out the full box score here.