3 takeaways from Milwaukee Bucks’ hectic Game 1 win over Chicago Bulls

Apr 17, 2022; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 17, 2022; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Jrue Holiday, Chicago Bulls: DeMar DeRozan
Apr 17, 2022; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

The Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls kicked off their highly-anticipated first round matchup on Sunday, and it was certainly an eventful Game 1.

Milwaukee came out energized as they rattled off the first nine points of the contest and looked to be in control early. The Bucks appeared ready to pull away once they established a 16-point lead in the opening quarter, but the Bulls would not go away that easily. They quickly battled back into the game as they slowly chipped away at the deficit until they finally took the lead in the third quarter. Thankfully, the Bucks kept their composure down the stretch in the second half of action and held off the Bulls with a 93-86 win in Fiserv Forum to take a 1-0 series lead. With that said, let us take a closer look at three takeaways from the contest.

The Milwaukee Bucks did a solid job of making the Chicago Bulls’ Big 3 work for everything on the offensive end

Given the array of talented shot-makers the Bulls have in tow, the Bucks would have to tighten up on the defensive end in this series to make things difficult for them. While Milwaukee’s defense is not fully responsible, it certainly played a part in limiting the contributions from Chicago’s star trio in this opening matchup, as they combined to score 60 points on 21-of-71 (29.6 percent) shooting while also tallying nine turnovers.

Nikola Vucevic led the way with 24 points, but he shot a grueling 9-of-27 from the floor, including 2-of-10 from behind the arc. Vucevic spent most of the contest being hounded by Brook Lopez or Giannis Antetokounmpo, which was quite the challenge. The big man did a significant chunk of his damage in the third quarter as he scored 12 of his points on 4-of-5 shooting, but the Bucks made sure to limit him in the fourth as they allowed him to score a mere two points on 1-of-8 shooting in the final period. While Vucevic had his moments throughout, the Bucks did a solid job of limiting his overall production, which helped spark this win.

Meanwhile, DeMar DeRozan scored 18 points on 6-of-25 shooting as he was primarily defended by Wesley Matthews for most of the night. Limiting DeRozan was a massive talking point for the Bucks heading into this series, and they did a quality job in Game 1, particularly down the stretch, as he shot 1-of-6 in the fourth. DeRozan did receive six foul attempts in this game, showing that the Bucks still have some work to do in that regard. Keeping him off the line will be pivotal for the Bucks in this series, given how great DeRozan is at drawing those free throw attempts. Yet, considering DeRozan shot 24 percent from the floor, there should not be too much complaining about the effort defensively.

While Matthews guarded DeRozan, Jrue Holiday did his part to keep Zach LaVine in check during this game. LaVine finished with 18 points on 6-of-19 shooting, having struggled in his first-ever playoff game as he was pestered by the All-Defensive guard. Holiday had his share of struggles in this game, which will be discussed further in a minute, but his defense was a bright spot as he did pester LaVine throughout this one.

Given how talented Chicago’s Big 3 has proven to be, they will certainly not shoot 30 percent from the floor in every game, but Milwaukee can make them work for every shot. They must build off of this strong performance and limit the contributions from these three throughout the series.