3 things to watch for in Milwaukee Bucks series opener vs Chicago Bulls

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 21: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 21: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Chicago Bulls: Patrick Williams, Alex Caruso
Apr 5, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

The day has finally arrived! After getting to sit back and watch four playoff games yesterday, the Milwaukee Bucks begin their playoff journey tonight!

I don’t need to remind you about the season series between these teams, but I will anyway since the Bucks swept the four-game set against the Chicago Bulls and outscored them by 59 points in those games.

This is the Bucks and Bulls’ first time meeting in the playoffs since 2014-15 when the Bulls won in six games and Giannis Antetokounmpo bowled over Mike Dunleavy for punching Michael Carter-Williams in the throat. Fun times!

Milwaukee is 12-1 in the first round of the playoffs under head coach Mike Budenholzer with the one loss coming against Nikola Vucevic’s Orlando Magic in the bubble. We’ve talked a lot about this series with a week off, but now it’s finally time to dig into Game 1.

How will the Chicago Bulls choose to defend Giannis Antetokounmpo out of the gate in Game 1?

Game 1 in any series is always interesting, but with each team getting a week or so off and getting all of this time to plan for each other, it will be fascinating to see what these teams came up with for each other.

The biggest test for the Bulls (and any team in the playoffs against the Bucks) is how they plan to handle Antetokounmpo on defense.

Antetokounmpo played in all four games of the season series, averaging 26.8 points on 60 percent true shooting, 13.5 rebounds, and 5.0 assists. He got to the line 45 times (over 11 times per game) and was a plus-56 in those games. Safe to say he was incredibly dominant.

Even in the fourth game of the season series, Antetokounmpo was “held” to 18 points on 59 percent true shooting, nine rebounds, and seven assists in 24 minutes. The Bucks cruised in that one and Antetokounmpo took a back seat to Brook Lopez popping off for a game-high 28 points.

Second-year forward Patrick Williams will likely start against Antetokounmpo with Nikola Vucevic and Tristan Thompson mixing in. None of those guys have had much success against Antetokounmpo with the two-time MVP going 21-of-38 against the trio while drawing 12 shooting fouls.

The Bulls will throw doubles his way any time he drives and try to wall him off from getting to the paint. Problem is that he has gotten a lot better at kicking out early to teammates and finding those passing lanes.

Part of why Chicago struggled so much in the regular season against Milwaukee was their inability to slow down Antetokounmpo and it will have the same problems in this series.