Scouting report for Milwaukee Bucks in first round series vs. Chicago Bulls

Apr 5, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 5, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Bobby Portis, Jrue Holiday, Chicago Bulls: Tristan Thompson, DeMar DeRozan
Mar 4, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

Scouting report for Milwaukee Bucks vs. Chicago Bulls: Star matchups

As always, the positional matchups on the floor for the Milwaukee Bucks will prove to be key determinants of this first-round series against the Bulls.

Despite losing their starting point guard for the remainder of the season, the Bulls still have three All-Stars that could be a challenge to contain: DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, and Nikola Vucevic.

DeMar DeRozan

DeRozan has had a spectacular season, especially in the clutch, in his first year in Chicago with averages of 27.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game on 50.4 percent shooting and 35.2 percent from 3-point territory. He’ll most certainly be selected to an All-NBA team for his stellar contributions.

Expect veteran wing Wesley Matthews to start for the Bucks and get the initial assignment on DeRozan. However, Jrue Holiday should see plenty of time defending him as well. Matthews’ ability to annoy opponents with his toughness, grit, anticipation, and awareness will make him a trustworthy option to slow down DeRozan throughout this series.

DeRozan lives for the mid-range shots and while Milwaukee’s defensive drop coverage scheme can open up mid-range opportunities, the Bucks will have to live by making it as uncomfortable as possible for DeRozan without fouling. The five-time All-Star is averaging 18.3 two-point attempts per game compared to just 1.9 attempts from three along with 7.8 free throw attempts this year.

Zach LaVine

LaVine is entering his first career postseason appearance with season averages of 24.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game on 47.6 percent field goals and 38.9 percent shooting from beyond the arc. The two-time All-Star is exceptionally quick on his feet, explosive, and can score from all angles on the court.

Jrue Holiday will likely get the start on LaVine given his world-class defensive prowess that’s become increasingly well-respected across the league. While Holiday should spend most of his minutes on LaVine, he’ll be all over the court due to his ability to defend any position and with Milwaukee’s desire to switch more often defensively.

The Bulls like to use Zach LaVine in pick and roll situations, so when that time comes, Holiday or whichever Buck defending him should go over the screen to push LaVine off the 3-point line. Needless to say, LaVine is a dangerous threat from three so the Bucks can’t let him find his rhythm from 3-point range, or else the electric guard could explode for a big night. We’ve seen the Bucks get exposed for allowing too many 3-point attempts before.

Nikola Vucevic

The Bucks already have recent experience facing Nikola Vucevic in the playoffs when he was a member of the Orlando Magic in the bubble in 2020. Now with the Bulls, Vucevic is averaging 17.4 points, 11.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists, one steal, and one block on 47.3 percent shooting and 31.4 percent from three this season.

If there’s one player from the Bulls that has struggled the most against the Bucks, it’s been Vucevic. In their last meeting, the 31-year-old center scored seven points on a whopping 3-of-19 (15.8 percent) shooting night.

Brook Lopez should be able to contain Vucevic in this series for the most part, and Giannis Antetokounmpo should also get his fair share of minutes on him when the Bucks shift toward small-ball lineups. Milwaukee shouldn’t have to worry too much about him as long as Lopez and Antetokounmpo stay out of foul trouble. Bobby Portis and maybe even Serge Ibaka could be involved as well.