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: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Chicago Bulls: Patrick Williams, Coby White, Tristan Thompson
Apr 5, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

Scouting report for Milwaukee Bucks vs. Chicago Bulls: Giannis Antetokounmpo’s coverage

In the last few years, the path to success for opposing teams against the Milwaukee Bucks in the playoffs has largely been through successfully slowing down perennial superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The Toronto Raptors had a successful plan by “building a wall” to defend Antetokounmpo in the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals. The Miami Heat also had a similar approach in the bubble. There seems to be a blueprint to properly defend Antetokounmpo, but still, the degree of difficulty is unmeasurable. It doesn’t help opposing teams that Giannis is still only getting better day by day either.

His one-of-a-kind mentality and continued desire for greatness cannot be defined. It’s propelled him to unimaginable success at just 27 years old and now that he’s already tasted an NBA Championship, he’s only going to be hungry for more. Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the most dominant stars of his time and arguably the best player in the world at the moment.

If Chicago is going to stay competitive with the Bucks, they’re going to have to find a way to break down Antetokounmpo, who dropped 50 points, 14 rebounds, and five blocks in his last playoff game during Game 6 of the 2021 NBA Finals to clinch the title and Finals MVP.

The Bulls will likely start versatile forward Patrick Williams on Giannis while occasionally throwing Tristan Thompson, Derrick Jones Jr., and Nikola Vucevic at him. Those are Chicago’s top choices to individually match up with “The Greek Freak”, but they’ll surely send two or three guys at times to stop him from penetrating into the paint. They won’t have a choice.

Nevertheless, Giannis Antetokounmpo has completely dominated the Bulls for a long stretch now. Here are Antetokounmpo’s stats from the four wins vs. Chicago this season:

  • January 21: 30 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, two blocks, one steal, 47.8 percent shooting
  • March 4: 34 points, 16 rebounds, five assists, two steals, one block, 54.5 percent shooting
  • March 22: 25 points, 17 rebounds, five assists, three blocks, one steal, 75.0 percent shooting
  • April 5: 18 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, 53.8 percent shooting (only 24 minutes)

Evidently, it doesn’t seem likely that the Bulls will be able to disrupt Antetokounmpo’s two-way dominance but they’re going to attempt to give him different coverages and confuse him with elements of surprise in order to frustrate him and limit his overall impact similar to how the Raptors and Heat executed their gameplan back then. Obviously, that’s easier said than done.

We can expect plenty of double teams or even triple-team coverages on Antetokounmpo during this series, so it’ll be important for him to stay calm, make the right decisions, find the open man, and execute at the elite level that he’s accustomed to.

Giannis will be the main source for the Bucks offensively as usual, but Milwaukee must keep a balanced attack against this Bulls squad that isn’t strong defending the paint or the perimeter. Chicago is allowing teams to shoot 36.7 percent from behind the arc and 64.0 percent from less than six feet this season.

It’s no surprise that head coach Billy Donovan and the Bulls haven’t had an answer for Giannis Antetokounmpo all year, and that isn’t expected to change during this first-round series matchup.