Revisiting playoff history between the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls

MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 30 (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 30 (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images) /

For the fifth time in history, the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls are set to face one another in the NBA Playoffs. These two franchises have had their share of clashes over the last few decades, and they will add another chapter to their historic rivalry when they take the floor in the first round starting today. Before this highly-anticipated matchup, let us turn back the clock and revisit the playoff history between these two Central Division rivals.

Revisiting playoff history between the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls

In the all-time playoff series between these two franchises, the Bucks and Bulls are knotted 2-2.

The first time these two met in the postseason came during the 1974 Western Conference Finals (Yes, the Western Conference Finals). The Bucks were led by a 26-year-old Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was sensational as he averaged 34.8 points and 19.5 rebounds to lead Milwaukee to a clean 4-0 sweep over the Bulls. Bob Dandridge followed with 20.5 points and 7.5 rebounds, while the one and only Oscar Robertson averaged 16.8 points and 10 assists in the series. Milwaukee’s trio outdueled Chicago’s Big 3 of Bob Love, Chet Walker, and Norm Van Lier to seal the deal and meet the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals, where they lost.

The next time they met would be 11 years later, with both teams looking far different than before. Milwaukee was led by All-Star forward Terry Cummings and two-time Defensive Player of the Year Sidney Moncrief, who both averaged over 25 points per game in this series. Meanwhile, the Bulls had a 21-year-old Michael Jordan on their side, and his greatness was on display throughout that series as he averaged 29.3 points, 8.5 assists, 5.8 rebounds, and 2.8 steals across the four games. Despite a heroic effort from a young Jordan, the Bucks took care of business as they handed their rivaling Bulls 3-1 to advance.

Five years later, these two would meet in the first round again, but the Bulls got their revenge as they took down the Bucks 3-1. Michael Jordan was out for blood in that series as he averaged an otherworldly 36.8 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, 2.5 steals, and a blocked shot per game. Scottie Pippen provided some support, especially on the defensive end, as he added 22.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, eight assists, 2.8 steals, and 1.5 blocked shots in that series. Alvin Robertson and Ricky Pierce both tried their hardest to combat Jordan’s assault as they averaged over 22 points per game apiece, but the Bucks could not withstand the Bulls this time around.

Following that series, 25 years went by before the Bucks and Bulls would see each other in the playoffs once again. In the first round of the 2015 NBA Playoffs, a 23-year-old Khris Middleton paved the way for the Bucks as he averaged a team-high 15.8 points per contest in that series, followed by 12.2 from Michael Carter-Williams and 11.5 from Giannis Antetokounmpo. Despite falling in an 0-3 hole, the youthful Bucks battled their way back into the series to rattle off two straight victories to force a Game 6, which the battle-tested Bulls dominated. Chicago’s trio of Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose, and Pau Gasol proved to be too much for Milwaukee in what was a hard-fought series between these two.

With the all-time series tied up 2-2, the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls will have a chance to claim the lead when they meet again in the first round of the 2022 NBA Playoffs.

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Be sure to catch the action when Game 1 tips off today at 5:30 p.m. CST on TNT.