The Chicago Bulls weren’t expected to beat the defending champion, Milwaukee Bucks, in their first-round playoff series. While the Bulls did produce a 114-110 win in Game two, everything went south after that.
The Biggest Takeaways From the Chicago Bulls’ Game 5 Loss to the Milwaukee Bucks
The Bulls went on to lose the next two games at home by a combined 54 points. And for the die-hard fans that were hoping to see the Bulls extend their season with a win in Game 5, that didn’t come close to happening. The Bucks led by a 34-18 margin after the first 12 minutes of this contest and never looked back.
When it was all said and done, the Bucks won this one going away 116-100, concluding the Bulls’ first postseason run in five years.
Here’s a look at the biggest takeaways from the Bulls’ Game 5 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
3. This Game Was Over for the Bulls Before It Even Started
Bulls’ head coach, Billy Donovan has had to use a variety of different lineups during the regular season due to players being in and out of the rotation. And in Game 5, that trend continued. Alex Caruso was out of the mix due to concussion protocol.
Bulls‘ Alex Caruso is also out tonight vs. Bucks in Game 5 due to concussion protocol. https://t.co/Cecj69B6fA
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 27, 2022
If that wasn’t enough, Zach LaVine didn’t suit up, either, as he entered the league’s health and safety protocol for the second time this season.
Bulls' Zach LaVine enters COVID protocols, likely to miss Game 5 vs. Buckshttps://t.co/wkZJHm92Te
— CBS Sports NBA (@CBSSportsNBA) April 26, 2022
The Bulls weren’t a match for the Bucks at full strength. But with the absences of these two key players, the outcome of this game was already decided before the tipoff. The good news is that the players who were not expected to play a ton of minutes in this series were given expanded roles in the close-out game.
The bad news is those players didn’t fare too well. Coby White, Troy Brown Jr., Derrick Jones Jr., Javonte Green, and Ayo Dosunmu shot a combined 8-for-36 from long range. Again, though, the latest lineup shuffle was a microcosm of a Bulls’ season that was plagued with injuries.
2. Bulls’ Shooting Woes Continue Against Bucks’ Defense
The Bulls ending their four-year playoff drought was one of the major storylines coming into this series. As the series progressed, however, it was the Bucks’ defense that dominated the discussion after each game.
Unfortunately for the Bulls, that trend was on display once again in Game 5. They shot just 42.4% from the field, connecting on 39 of their 92 attempts. The story is even more disheartening in terms of the lack of efficiency from the 3-point line. Following a season in which they finished fourth in three-point shooting, the Bulls shot 15-for-52 from beyond the arc — an abysmal 28.8 conversion rate.
The Bucks’ defense is predicated on protecting the paint while giving up a lot of shots from distance. They finished last in this category during the regular season, as opposing teams attempted 40.6 3-point shots per contest. As a result, Milwaukee was ranked 19th in opponent three-point shooting percentage, as the opposition converted 35.6 percent from deep.
In this series, though, the Bulls’ struggles from distance helped bolster the Bucks’ defense in several categories. The Bucks are ranked first in points allowed (95.2), opponent field-goal percentage (40.4), and opponent 3-point efficiency (28.3 percent).
Given those numbers, it would have been difficult for the Bulls to beat a good team during the regular season, let alone win a best-of-seven playoff series against the defending champs.
1. Chicago Bulls Offseason Will Focus On Potential Extension for Zach Lavine
During the first half of the season, Bulls’ guard Zach LaVine was playing well on both ends of the court. During the second half of the regular season, he was dealing with knee soreness, which resulted in his defensive rating dropping during the second half of the season.
LaVine posted his fourth consecutive season in which he’s averaged over 23 points per contest. Additionally, this was his fourth straight year with at least 4.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists per contest as well. LaVine shot 47.6 percent overall from the field — the second-best mark of his career. He also shot 38.9 percent from beyond the arc, which is the second-best conversion rate he’s posted in his eight-year career.
Simply put, LaVine put up decent numbers across the board. The elephant in the room is whether the Bulls’ front office is willing to offer him a max extension. As far as teammate, DeMar DeRozan is concerned, the answer to that question is a no-brainer.
“Yeah. Max player, max talent, max everything,” DeRozan told NBC Sports Chicago when asked if LaVine is a max-worthy player after the Bulls’ season-ending loss to the Bucks Wednesday night. “He’s one of those players in this league that you don’t see too often. I tell him all the time how envious I am of the things he’s able to do. He deserves everything that’s coming to him for sure.”
It is no secret how well LaVine and DeRozan played when they were on the court together. And they were one of the most formidable duos in the league. Whether this is enough for a max contract remains to be seen.
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