3 keys to the Milwaukee Bucks defeating the Chicago Bulls in Round 1

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: Jordan Nwora, Wesley Matthews, Chicago Bulls: DeMar DeRozan
Mar 4, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Milwaukee Bucks must contain DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine against the Chicago Bulls

This is quite simple. You contain the Bulls’ two leading scorers and shotmakers, you likely win the series. This is much easier said than done, though. Demar DeRozan is a midrange assassin who can also blow by his defender at any time, and Zach LaVine is an explosive athlete who can get to the rim whenever he wants, and can also get hot from three just as easily.

Both have enjoyed relative success individually against the Bucks this season, despite the 0-4 record in their matchups. Zach LaVine has averaged 25/6/5 on 55.5 percent true shooting, while DeRozan has averaged  31/4/4 on 56.5 percent true shooting, including a 40-point game in the most recent matchup between these two teams.

The Bucks absolutely have the personnel to shut down the Bulls’ two all-stars, though. Jrue Holiday is one of the best perimeter defenders of the past decade, and Wesley Matthews has been a revelation at the defensive end of the floor for the Bucks this season, hounding whoever his assignment is. Having these two lockdown perimeter guards give the Bucks an opportunity to defend without having to help off the other guys, like Coby White and Patrick Williams. It’s hard to emphasize how important this is for the Bucks, who have shown tendencies to overhelp on rim pressure all season. If Holiday and Matthews can keep DeRozan and LaVine out of the paint, the Bucks will have a great chance to win big in this series.

The Bucks have other options when Holiday/Matthews are off the court. One of them is to throw Giannis on one of DeRozan and LaVine, similar to the strategy Milwaukee employed against Jimmy Butler last year extremely effectively. Giannis has shown an ability to guard smaller players very well, although the Bucks likely want Giannis to be the helper/roamer on defense. Other options include Pat Connaughton, Khris Middleton, and George Hill. Containing the Bulls’ two all-stars won’t be easy, but it must be done if the Bucks want to end this series quickly.