MILWAUKEE — On an evening when their often potent offense was looking for solutions, the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks needed to depend on their protection of their playoff opener.
Happily for the Bucks, that is the one a part of their recreation that was at a championship degree.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 27 factors and 16 rebounds, and the third-seeded Bucks recovered after blowing a 16-point result in beat the sixth-seeded Chicago Bulls 93-86 in Sport 1 of their Japanese Convention first-round playoff collection Sunday.
“We have got to win the ugly video games,” mentioned Jrue Vacation, whose 3-pointer with 5:03 left put the Bucks forward for good. “I really feel like as we speak was ugly. It was a battle and it was powerful, but it surely was an unpleasant one.”
Vacation’s 3-pointer was a part of an 8-0 run that gave the Bucks an 85-78 edge. The Bulls bought the margin down to 1 however might by no means regain the lead, as Zach LaVine missed a possible tying 3-pointer from practically 30 ft away with 29 seconds left.
“I assumed it was an excellent shot,” LaVine mentioned. “We have been down three. I bought a extremely clear look.”
Milwaukee overcame its struggles on offense by holding the Bulls to the bottom single-game level whole of any Bucks opponent all season. The Bulls shot a season-low 32.3% from the ground of their first playoff look in 5 years. They have been 7 of 37 on 3-point makes an attempt.
Within the fourth quarter, the Bulls have been 6 of 28 and 1 of 12 from 3-point vary.
“Each shot I took tonight felt good,” mentioned DeMar DeRozan, who scored 18 factors however shot 6 of 25. “I assure you that me, Zach and Vooch (Nikola Vucevic) aren’t going to overlook that many pictures once more.”
The Bucks, who’ve gained 17 of their final 18 conferences with the Bulls, grabbed an early 32-16 lead and threatened to place this recreation out of attain early. However they struggled to attain the remainder of the way in which.
After capturing 53.8% (14 of 26) within the first quarter, the Bucks made simply 34.5% of their makes an attempt (20 of 58) the remainder of the way in which. They’d an equal variety of turnovers and baskets – 14 – within the second half.
They completed with 21 turnovers. They scored simply three factors within the first 6 minutes, 57 seconds of the fourth quarter.
“The entire workforce was sort of out of rhythm,” mentioned Antetokounmpo, who did not rating within the fourth quarter whereas coping with foul hassle. “We weren’t capable of finding each other as straightforward as we often discover each other and make pictures. We missed a bunch of open pictures as we speak. Normally we make these and we get vitality.”
Brook Lopez scored 18 factors, Vacation had 15, Khris Middleton had 11 and Bobby Portis added 10. Portis additionally had 12 rebounds.
Vucevic had 24 factors and 17 rebounds however shot 9 of 27. LaVine had 18 factors and 10 rebounds whereas capturing 6 of 19.
The Bulls did not take their first lead till late within the third quarter. They took their final lead at 78-77 on Vucevic’s inside basket with 5:56 left earlier than the Bucks scored eight straight factors.
Alex Caruso’s layup with 1:36 left minimize Milwaukee’s benefit to 87-86, however the Bulls would not rating once more.
“We confirmed resiliency tonight,” Lopez mentioned. “Issues did not go our approach offensively for lots of the sport, and we fought by means of it and did an excellent job defensively.”
GOING BACK TO CHICAGO
With the 2 cities separated by solely about 90 miles, the Bulls are heading again to Chicago after Sport 1 earlier than returning to Milwaukee for Wednesday’s Sport 2.
“If we might have needed to play Sunday-Tuesday, I feel we might have undoubtedly stayed right here,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan mentioned earlier than the sport. “However I feel as a result of we have now two days, we have now an opportunity to get dwelling at a good time, these guys can sleep in their very own mattress, observe tomorrow, observe Tuesday after which come again up.”
Bulls: Caruso was within the beginning lineup. Caruso had began simply 18 of the 41 regular-season video games he performed. … The Bulls have been lacking assistant coaches Chris Fleming and Damian Cotter, who had examined optimistic for COVID-19. “They’re nonetheless in protocols proper now with the league,” Donovan mentioned earlier than the sport. Donovan added that “they’ve by no means actually been in a state of affairs the place both of them has felt unhealthy in any respect, in order that’s been a optimistic.”
Bucks: Reserve guard George Hill (stomach pressure) and reserve ahead Jordan Nwora (again soreness) have been unavailable for Sunday’s recreation. Hill additionally was held out of the Bucks’ regular-season finale. Jevon Carter basically stuffed Hill’s spot within the rotation and scored three factors in 9 1/2 minutes. … The Bucks gained Sport 1 for simply the second time of their final seven playoff collection.
Sport 2 is Wednesday in Milwaukee.
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