Game in Review: Milwaukee Bucks @ Chicago Bulls – March 7

Mar 7, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) dives for a loose ball during the second half of the game against the Chicago Bulls at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 7, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) dives for a loose ball during the second half of the game against the Chicago Bulls at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports /

With the young guns rolling, the Milwaukee Bucks looked to pick up a win across the state border against the Chicago Bulls.

Starting Lineups – Milwaukee Bucks: O.J. Mayo, Khris MiddletonGiannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari ParkerMiles Plumlee

Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose, E’Twaun Moore, Mike Dunleavy, Taj GibsonPau Gasol

Off the back of a five game home stand the Milwaukee Bucks made the short trip to the United Center to face off with divisional rivals the Chicago Bulls.

Games against Chicago are never easy for the Milwaukee Bucks, but they could have been forgiven if they felt there were a couple of factors playing to their advantage on this occasion.

In spite of receiving their own disappointing news earlier in the day that Michael Carter-Williams would undergo hip surgery that would end his season prematurely, the Bucks would have had to have felt buoyed by their chances in this particular game when Chicago’s star Jimmy Butler was ruled out pre-game due to his own injury issues.

With the recent hot play of Giannis Antetokounmpo and his history dating back to that now infamous playoff ejection, a Greek Freak versus Mike Dunleavy Jr. matchup was certainly one to get Milwaukee fans excited.

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On the second night of a back-to-back, maybe it was unsurprising that in spite of any apparent edge, Milwaukee started slow.

The Bucks looked sluggish as the Bulls rolled off a 7-0 run in a series that was going to prove indicative of a game built on runs for both teams. An aggressive Jabari Parker drive eventually led to a lay in to get the Bucks on the board and trigger a 10-0 run of their own behind baskets from Giannis, Middleton and Plumlee.

Chicago answered back with (you guessed it) a 10-0 run of their own, as they started to establish some early dominance over the Bucks.

Hoiberg’s Chicago seemed acutely aware of Milwaukee’s lack of floor spacing, and much like the Thunder did in the early part of Sunday’s game, their aim was to lock in on Middleton while denying Jabari and Giannis room to drive in the paint.

That was a trend that would continue into the second quarter, but with the introduction of the bench Milwaukee managed to cut back into the deficit. That’s not to say that the Bucks bench is particularly stacked at present, but three-pointers from Jerryd Bayless and Rashad Vaughn certainly opened up space for their teammates to get to work.

All of a sudden Middleton also began to find some more space, and Greg Monroe found some joy off the bench with seven first half points.

For all the talk of potential triple-doubles from Giannis, it was a big man on the other end of the floor who was putting up the astonishing numbers on this occasion.

Veteran center Pau Gasol has long been one of the league’s best passing big men, but even by his standards having notched up 10 assists and 10 rebounds with two minutes remaining in the first half was incredibly impressive.

In a game that lacked any real flow due to both teams exchanging runs, the Bucks would have entered the half happy to be trailing by no more than seven points.

The third quarter saw both teams exchange three-pointers with two from Mike Dunleavy matched by two from Milwaukee’s Jerryd Bayless, but the real difference for Milwaukee was the increased aggression from their young stars.

The first signs came with trips to the free throw line in quick succession for both Giannis and Jabari. Clearing feeling at home back playing in his native Chicago, Parker would start to assert his influence even further midway through the third quarter.

Parker is certainly not known for his defensive prowess, but his energy and effort on that end of the floor certainly couldn’t have been questioned on this occasion. Then of course, there’s always time for a taster of what he does best on the opposite end of the floor too.

With the gap tightened to as little as four points entering the final 12 minutes, it was time for Milwaukee to take it up a gear.

Giannis certainly seemed willing to oblige.

More than any of the young core, it was Jerryd Bayless who put the Bucks into a position to succeed with a red-hot shooting night on this occasion. Five triples on the night saw Bayless top 20 points, and as part of a bench that only ran three deep alongside Monroe and Rashad Vaughn, that was a vital contribution.

On the other end of the floor, Dunleavy’s four triples hurt the Bucks just as much as Bayless’ helped. With Moore having knocked down a Bulls three a minute earlier, a Dunleavy long ball with 2:30 remaining felt very much like a dagger.

Although both Parker and Antetokounmpo notched up double-doubles, it wouldn’t prove enough.

100. 24. 90. 89. Final

The Bucks are next in action on Wednesday night when they return home to Milwaukee to face off with the Miami Heat.