Milwaukee Bucks vs. Chicago Bulls – Playoff Experience


When the NBA Playoffs roll around each year, the game tends to change. Starters are more heavily relied upon, defensive effort tends to intensify, specific roles are altered, and some players are just plain better.

So, how have all these things effected both the Bucks and Bulls to date?

I took a look at the most important players with significant playoff minutes for both teams and put them in a spreadsheet.

Chicago Bulls

Derrick Rose

Though Rose’s overall usage has been much higher in the playoffs, he seems to be much less efficient. His WS/48 (Win Shares per 48 minutes) takes a very large drop of -.025.

However, there’s an important caveat when taking away anything from Rose’s playoff performance: He hasn’t played in the playoffs since the ’11-’12 season in which he tore his ACL, so it’s hard to know what to expect out of him. Bucks fans can only hope he continues to shoot as many threes as he’s been taking this year, as they make up over 30 percent of his shots and he’s shooting an abysmal 28 percent on them.

Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler’s numbers tell a similar story as he seems to be slightly less efficient in the playoffs. Again, however, the player he has been this year is vastly different from the player he was in those playoff series, so not much can be taken from these stats.

Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah

The two starting big men for the Bulls don’t seem to perform as well in the playoffs. While equally efficient in the regular season and postseason, their roles seem to be reduced as they put up lower points per 36 and usage rates.

Kirk Hinrich

So I guess Kirk Hinrich loves himself some playoffs. The numbers speak for themselves: He’s used more, he scores more, he’s more efficient, and he shoots better. Though he’s frustrated many Bulls fans in a limited role this season, history seems to suggest his performance has nowhere to go but up in the coming weeks.

Taj Gibson

Not much can be taken from Taj’s numbers. He seems to be the same strong, grinding, energy big man in the playoffs as he is in the regular season, a type of player that figures to thrive against a Bucks team that often struggles on the boards.

Milwaukee Bucks

As for the Bucks… Well, let’s just say there’s a smaller sample size.

Zaza Pachulia

Since Zaza didn’t make the playoffs in the first half of his career, I shortened the sample size to 2006 and on. Zaza seems to have played worse in the playoffs to this point in his career. However, his role with the Atlanta Hawks teams that made the playoffs was much more limited than the one he sees today with the Bucks. This will be Zaza’s chance to finally play significant minutes for a playoff team.

Jared Dudley

Again, small sample size. Other than his injury-riddled postseason run with the Clippers last year, Dudley has only made the playoffs withSteve Nash’s 2009-10 Phoenix Suns. He was used approximately the same amount, but was seemingly hot in their run, having a .620 TS% and a boosted WS/48. Let’s hope we see this Dudley, rather than the hobbled one of the Clippers.


I think the biggest thing to take away is how much more playoff experience the Bulls have over the Bucks. Hopefully Kidd’s 18 seasons in the playoffs as both a player and a coach is enough to buffer that advantage at least a little.

The other big thing to realize is that the Derrick Rose we see today hasn’t even seen the court in the playoffs. Every season since his ACL tear, he’s been sidelined due to injury by the time April rolled around. This April isn’t even much different, as he left Wednesday night’s game vs. the Hawks with a knee injury. Has he been saving some of his energy and explosiveness for the playoffs? Or will we see the same player we’ve seen in the regular season for the past 2 years?

Bucks fans can only hope the decreased effectiveness that has greeted Noah and Gasol in the playoffs before returns this year. Otherwise, we may see them feast upon Milwaukee’s thin front court. And we know how those games go

Jan 10, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls forward Pau Gasol (16) shoots the ball against the Milwaukee Bucks during the second half at the United Center. The Chicago Bulls defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 95-87. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Next: Bucks/Bulls Key Matchup: Ersan Ilyasova vs. Pau Gasol

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