Keys To The Game: Game 1 at Milwaukee Bucks (4.17.22)

The Bulls head to Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee for Game 1 of their Eastern Conference playoff series against the reigning champion Bucks.

Milwaukee swept Chicago 4-0 during the regular season with only the final two games being close, decided by a total of 10 points.

Though the Bulls were beat thoroughly in the regular season series, they were some very clear tactical things Billy Donovan and his coaching staff can take from their four games against Milwaukee in 2021-22.

Be aggressive from the 3-point line

The Bulls are - by the numbers - the least aggressive 3-point shooting team in the league and by a decent margin. In fact, Chicago is the only team that shot less than 30 3-pointers per game over the 2021-22 regular season. Simply put, that has to change against the Bucks, starting with Sunday's Game 1.

The Bulls will have to get rid of all hesitation and trust the first open shot they get against a disciplined defense that has been championship-tested. Strong defense and a display of a strong shot-IQ is what could power the Bulls to victory.

Chicago shot 38.5% from 3-point range on 26 attempts in a six-point loss to Milwaukee on March 4. That formula (aggressive 3PAs and big efforts from your stars) and game act as a roadmap of what the Bulls need to do on Sunday night.

Hard drives to the basket

The Bulls are in the bottom-10 in the league in drives per game. This has ultimately been fine for the sustainability of the Bulls offense, as they have several players who are extremely talented when it comes to scoring out of isolation.

But in the postseason defenses get much, much tighter, the Bulls greatly to up their aggressions level on offense.

There is a fine line between initiating so much contact that you draw an offensive foul and initiating legal contact to establish position on offense. That line becomes even hazier in the postseason, though it usually favors the aggressor no matter what side of the ball we are discussing.

Playing with a bit more energy and aggression when driving to the rim could result in the Bulls finally getting a high frequency of free throws, which simply has not been the case all season vs. the Bucks.

Limit Giannis FTAs

It is, obviously, inevitable that reigning Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo will get to the free throw line against the Bulls interior defense. The question is: will the Bulls be able to keep at or below his regular season average?

Antetokoumpo comes into the regular season averaging over 11 free throw attempts per game (FTAs). Over four games against the Bulls in the 2021-22 regular season, Antetokounmpo was held almost right at his season average, at 11.3 FTAs per game.

While being smart with your hands is certainly important to defending without fouling, it will also be key for the Bulls defenders to not be scared to take the occasional chest-to-chest bump while playing aggressive defense on Giannis.

The less time "The Greek Freak" spends at the charity stripe, the greater chance the Bulls have of stealing Game 1.