Bulls vs. Bucks Odds
|Time||9:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
If the Chicago Bulls had any hope of defeating the Milwaukee Bucks it came on Sunday in a game where the defending champions had one of their worst offensive performances of the season. Unfortunately for the Bulls, it didn’t matter as the Bucks scraped out a 93-86 victory in Game 1 of their first round playoff series.
After squandering an opportunity to steal a game on the road, the Bulls hope to avoid going down 0-2 by winning Game 2. Can the Bulls split games in Milwaukee before the series shifts to the Windy City or will the Bucks take another step towards another NBA title?
Let’s analyze both sides and find out!
Can Chicago’s Offense Match Its Defense?
The Bulls squandered a golden opportunity to steal a game on the road. After allowing 34 points on 1.36 points per possession in the first quarter, the Bulls locked in defensively, holding the Bucks to just 59 points for the rest of the game.
Alex Caruso made high-impact defensive plays throughout the game, but for a Bulls defense that ranked 25th in Defensive Rating (117.9) since the All-Star break, it was a complete aberration of a performance and one we’re totally unlikely to see again.
The Bulls doubled and shaded Giannis Antetokounmpo at every opportunity and they were ineffective as he took full advantage of a defense that allows the highest frequency of field goal attempts at the rim (36.5%). Despite the dominance from Antetokounmpo, the Bulls found success defensively thanks to poor shooting from the Bucks and 21 turnovers.
The story of Game 1 was the Bulls’ inability to capitalize on an outlier offensive performance from the Bucks. DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic shot a combined 21-of-71 from the field and an abysmal 4-of-22 from behind the arc and as a whole the offense put up just 86 points.
DeRozan has played like an MVP candidate for much of the season, but his playoff struggles have been an issue for the majority of his career. That continued in Game 1 where he shot just 24% from the field. While he likely won’t shoot that poorly again, Holiday appears to be his kryptonite, holding him 39% shooting in five games this season. In addition, when Holiday has been his primary defender, DeRozan has scored just 34 points on 33 shots according to NBA.com.
Offense will continue to be a problem here as the Bulls take the lowest percentage of 3-point field goals (30.4%). While they did increase their frequency of 3-point attempts in Game 1, they shot 7-of-37 and simply don’t have the fire power to match up with the Bucks.
The Bucks Should Start Fast Again
Through the first quarter of Game 1, the Bucks looked poised to sweep a Bulls team they’ve dominated for the past four seasons.
The Bulls had no answer for Giannis Antetokounmpo who put up 27 points on 10-19 shooting along with 16 rebounds and three assists despite playing just 33 minutes due to foul trouble.
However, the Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday struggled, combining to shoot 34.4% with Middleton going 4-of-13 and Holiday shooting 6-of-16. The Bucks shot 18.9% from behind the arc and struggled to score efficiently for most of the game outside of the first quarter.
Bucks Offensive Rating By Quarter:
- First Quarter: 136.0
- Second Quarter: 68.0
- Third Quarter: 88.5
- Fourth Quarter: 76.0
Despite having 10 more turnovers, the Bucks still had a 15-14 edge in on points off those turnovers, and with their offensive struggles, the Bucks were able to hold the Bulls to 0.865 points per possession. A large part of that was the stellar defense from Holiday on DeRozan, which was to be expected based on what we’ve seen from their matchups this season.
The Bucks will concede DeRozan mid-range jumpers knowing they have an edge from behind the arc and likely won’t shoot as poorly or turn the ball over as much as they did in Game 1. It appears the Bucks will have to truly beat themselves to lose a game in this series.
Do you remember the last time the Bucks lost to the Bulls with Antetokounmpo in the lineup?
I’ll refresh your memory. It was day the day after Christmas in 2017. In that period of time the whole world has turned upside-down. We’ve had a global pandemic, a change of presidents and four different NBA champions. The Bulls still can’t find a way to defeat the Bucks with Antetokounmpo.
Including Sunday’s Game 1, the Bucks have won 17 out of the last 18 matchups against the Bulls with the only loss coming during the last day of the 2020-21 season with the Bucks resting their starters.
The Bulls squandered their best opportunity to get a win in this series in a game where Milwaukee played about as bad as we could expect … and the Bucks still won by seven points. The Bulls can’t bank on that poor performance being sustainable throughout this series.
The Bucks continue to be one of the worst third quarter teams in the league, but they should jump out an asset their dominance over the Bulls. For the second straight game, I’ll take the Bucks -5.5 in the first half.
Pick: Bucks -5.5 1H