After game 1 of the Bull’s first-round playoff match with the Milwaukee Bucks, there were a lot of people who continued to doubt the Bulls. A lot of people said the Bucks won’t have another off night shooting the ball. Even if the Bulls can hit their shots they still won’t stand a chance against Milwaukee when they get hot. After one game the Bulls had been completely written off. Maybe that was a good thing and worked to the Bull’s advantage. Last night in front of a packed arena the Bulls stole game 2 of this series from the Bucks to even the series at 1-1.
COMING BACK TO A CHICAGO 1-1. pic.twitter.com/q6YrpfVUWP
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) April 21, 2022
In a 114-110 victory over the Bucks, the Bulls looked like the team we saw earlier in the season. The offense looked good and decisive. There wasn’t any question when players were taking shots. The team’s “big three” all stepped up and contributed when needed most. The biggest contributor for the team was someone who had just come off a horrible game 1. That player was no other than forward DeMar DeRozan.
DeMVP does it again
There’s no denying that DeRozan played quite poorly in game 1 of this series. The dude shot 24% from the field in game 1 and was a big reason why the Bulls couldn’t get it done in the first game. DeRozan even said he would step up his shooting in game 2 and knew he wouldn’t have another shooting night like that.
Kept his word. pic.twitter.com/WJY3V5VOdj
— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) April 21, 2022
Well, DeRozan kept his word in game two. Last night DeRozan scored 41 points on 51.6% shooting from the floor. He took over this game for the Bulls to ensure a win in Milwaukee. DeMar came back to his regular-season form after having a one-off game this series. He showed up and played at an elite level to guarantee the Bulls a victory. There’s still a lot of series left to be played but DeRozan made sure to make his mark in his second playoff game as a Bull.
Bulls fans are going to remember that DeMar DeRozan game for the rest of their life.
He attacked a DPOY and 2x MVP like it was nothing to tie that series. No matter what happens next, that's now an iconic Bulls playoff performance.
— Elias Schuster (@Schuster_Elias) April 21, 2022
DeRozan found himself in the top 10 in MVP voting this season and truly made a huge impact on this Bulls team this year. This level of play has come to be expected out of DeMar and when he can play at this level the Bulls can do big things. While DeRozan played a phenomenal game some other key players stepped up. If the Bulls want to continue winning games in this series that will need to be a continuing trend.
If you were to look at just the stat sheet for last night’s game and not the final score you would be surprised at how few bench points both teams got. The Bulls got a measly 10 points combined off the bench while the Bucks got 8. For the Bulls, it all came down to the starting five. While we know DeRozan scored 41 the rest of the starting five combined for 63. The two key contributors points-wise were center Nikola Vucevic and guard Zach LaVine. Vucevic has had the spotlight on him after an inconsistent regular season and in these two games, he has performed at a high level. Last night he scored 24 points shooting 50% from three and 55.5% from the field. He added on 13 rebounds and showed the Bulls why they made the move for him last season.
Nikola Vucevic is having a "yes, I'm an All-Star and stop talking crap" game.
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) April 21, 2022
There’s a reason the Bulls made the move to bring him to Chicago and gave up so much for him. If these are the performances we get from him in the playoffs then it makes this move 100% worth it.
The next player who stepped up is Zach LaVine. He stepped up in a way that may go unnoticed by a lot of people. By taking fewer shots LaVine actually made the biggest difference. In the past, LaVine has been programmed to play hero ball. He would take a lot of shots and a lot of threes to try and save whatever team he was on. It was to be expected since he was the best player on the team and didn’t have much help. Well, last night LaVine only took 13 shots and scored 20 points. He was efficient with his shot taking and shot 75% from three.
His lack of shooting is what made him so impactful last night and some may see that as a negative but if it means the Bulls get the win then LaVine played his role. Moving forward it’s likely we may see LaVine and DeRozan switch places as far as being the leading scorers. But if this is what we need to see from LaVine to get wins it won’t be surprising to see him take a step back and let DeRozan take over.
The last player to be called out is point guard Alex Caruso. This guy has completely stepped up after being put into the starting point guard role. Last night Caruso had 10 assists while adding in 9 points. He not only holds his own on the offensive side of the ball but defensively as well. Caruso impacts the game on both sides of the ball and is a big reason why the Bull’s energy stays high on the court.
Alex Caruso tonight:
+17 (team high)
Locked up the Finals MVP. pic.twitter.com/1Qjpo4GiiI
— StatMuse (@statmuse) April 21, 2022
Caruso fills the stat sheet with impactful work and was an absolute steal this offseason. If the Bulls want to continue having a chance in this series they will need Caruso to play at this level each game. He’s stepped up in a major way and has quickly become a hometown favorite.
The Bulls will be taking a 1-1 series back to Chicago for a game on Friday. Before the series started I said they just need to steal one of the first two and this could be an interesting series. They did just that and get to come home to a loud United Center.
Time to head to Chicago
I’m sure there will still be people counting out the Bulls in this series. Each game has been close so far. With each team only winning by single digits a lot of people will think that this game may be a one-off. However, the Bulls now have the momentum. They are heading back to Chicago and get to play a home playoff game with the series tied. Chicago has been craving good Bulls playoff basketball and they now get that chance. Nikola Vucevic thinks the United Center is about to be a tough place to play.
Chicago Bulls center Nikola Vucevic said that he is "expecting a very loud United Center" on Friday.
(Via Bulls FB Live)
— Daniel Greenberg (@ChiSportUpdates) April 21, 2022
The Bulls had the best fans in the NBA this season so expecting the United Center to be loud is like expecting water to be wet. Bulls fans are going to make it a very tough environment for the Bucks. This Bulls team will certainly feed off that energy as they know not many outside of the city of Chicago believe in them. This is an exciting time for the Bulls as they haven’t had a home playoff game since 2016. The Bulls still have a tough matchup ahead of them but they have shown they can hang with this Bucks team. Follow the same game plan as last night and this team will be playing when the second round starts. Get ready for a battle and be prepared to cheer on the Bulls on Friday for game three.