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: George Hill. Chicago Bulls: DeMar DeRozan
Apr 5, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

Will Mike Budenholzer stick with the same rotation from the stretch run?

With about eight or so games left in the regular season, Mike Budenholzer shortened the rotation to a tight eight-to-nine-man group depending on the matchup and that didn’t include guys such as Jevon Carter and Serge Ibaka.

Those two did get to stay ready in games where the Milwaukee Bucks rested key guys and allowed the guys not in the supposed playoff rotation to get bigger minutes, but ultimately when everyone was playing, those guys were out. But now that the playoffs are here, how deep will Budenholzer’s rotation be?

George Hill picked up an injury against the Detroit Pistons, which brought Carter back into the rotation. We’ll see if Hill is feeling well enough to play as the only backup guard, but Carter should be in there regardless, at least for the first game of the series.

We saw last playoffs that early in a series, Budenholzer would be looser with the rotation and let more guys play to see who was playing well, matched up well, etc. I’d expect to see the same in Game 1 of this series.

The Bucks can win the series with a looser rotation and don’t need the boost that comes from playing your best players more minutes in the playoffs. Carter’s play since coming over to the Bucks is more than enough to justify him being in the rotation this round.

His aggressive defense will be an asset against Ayo Dosunmu, Alex Caruso, Coby White, and even DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine to give Jrue Holiday a couple of plays off. He held LaVine to 2-of-5 shooting with a turnover in the regular season.

Even Ibaka should see minutes early in the series to deal with Nikola Vucevic and let Brook Lopez get some extra rest when needed. Also, there should be a rim protector next to Bobby Portis at all times so if Lopez and Antetokounmpo are on the bench together, Ibaka needs to be out there.

It will likely change series-to-series and even game-to-game, but I’d like to see Carter and Ibaka in the rotation to start this series.