The Chicago Bulls are in the playoffs for the first time since 2016-17. They closed out their last postseason appearance with four consecutive losses after taking a 2-0 lead.
Biggest takeaways from Chicago Bulls’ Game 2 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks
And that trend continued in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks. In what can be best categorized as a dismal showing for both teams, the Bucks emerged victorious 93-86. Following that loss, the Bulls knew that they would need a better showing in Game 2 if they hoped to earn a split against the defending champions.
This time, it was the Bulls who got off to a quick start, scoring the first nine points of the game. Chicago managed to extend that lead to double digits in the third quarter. As expected, the Bucks didn’t go away quietly. But in the end, the Bulls escaped with a 114-110 victory, tying the best-of-seven series at one game apiece.
Here are the biggest takeaways from the Chicago Bulls’ Game 2 win.
1. Chicago Bulls Turned Things Around from Beyond the Arc
During the regular season, the Bulls posted the fourth-best 3-point shooting percentage in the NBA (36.9 percent). However, in Game 1, Chicago shot an abysmal 7-for-37 from beyond the arc, which equates to an 18.9% conversion rate. In Game 2, the Bulls improved their outside touch, as they knocked down 12 of their 25 attempts from distance (48 percent).
Whether the Bulls can sustain this level of efficiency going forward remains to be seen. But if they want to have a chance in this series, they will need to shoot the long ball at a respectable clip.
2. The Bulls have Missed Alex Caruso
It is no secret that the Bulls were a different team when Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso were sidelined with injuries during the regular season. Although Ball has been ruled out for the remainder of this season, Caruso returned to the rotation and he had quite an impact in Game 2.
The Bulls’ reserve guard finished with nine points (all three-pointers) on 3-for-8 shooting from the field. Caruso also grabbed three rebounds and handed out 10 assists. It is also worth mentioning that he recorded two blocks and two steals while finishing with a plus-16 net rating — the best rating of any player from both teams.
Just like his matter-of-fact play on the court, Caruso offered this response to the team’s Game 2 win.
“Go to Game 3,” Caruso told the Chicago Sun-Times. “We gotta win three more times. Lot more games to play.”
Given the fact that the Bulls won their first playoff game in five years, this was a big win. On the other hand, Caruso’s assessment was spot on as the team prepares for Game 3.
3. The Legend of DeMar DeRozan Continues
One of the key reasons why the Bulls struggled in the opening game of this series is because their star players had an off night. DeMar DeRozan scored 18 points but shot just 6-for-25 from the field. Meanwhile, Zach LaVine also had 18 points, but connected on just six of his 19 attempts and shot 2-for-10 from beyond the arc. Following one of his more disappointing outings of the season, DeRozan vowed that he would not shoot such a low percentage from the field.
True to his word, DeRozan delivered one heck of a performance. He scored 41 points on 16-for-31 shooting from the field. He also pulled down nine boards and handed out four assists, earning him these post-game comments from the Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo.
“He’s a great player,” Giannis said, via CBS Sports. “He’s a guy that’s tough to guard because he wants to shoot those mid-range shots. He wants to get to his spots, has great balance, great rhythm. He’s gonna make a lot of those shots. He did it in the regular season, he did it tonight. But at the end of the day, I feel like we contested every shot. Like, it wasn’t open.”
As the Bulls All-Star guard has done so many times this season, DeRozan has a knack for getting buckets when his team needs them the most, and that trait was on full display in Game 2. Hopefully, that trend will continue as the series shifts to the Windy City for the next two games.
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