3 keys for the Milwaukee Bucks to close out Chicago Bulls in Game 5

Apr 24, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 24, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo. Chicago Bulls: Nikola Vucevic
Mar 4, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

We’re a game away from my official prediction of the Milwaukee Bucks winning their first-round series in five games coming true, they just need to win at home tonight to close out the Chicago Bulls.

Things got a little less interesting yesterday when it was announced that Zach LaVine will likely miss tonight’s game after being placed in health and safety protocols. You can have your opinions on if the Bulls would have been able to actually push this series to a sixth game but it’s just unfortunate that LaVine’s first playoff experience may get cut short.

But hey, as Kurtis Blow said, these are the breaks in the NBA playoffs and they’ll be playing basketball regardless of who is or isn’t in the lineup for either team. So, with the chance to go to the second round on the line, here are a few things that the Bucks will need to do tonight.

The Milwaukee Bucks can focus more of their defensive efforts on Nikola Vucevic

Through the four games of this series, much of the defensive focus has been geared toward DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine. I mean, for good reason, as those were the Bulls’ two leading scorers in the regular season, both made the All-Star team and scored over 20 points per game this season.

That has meant that Nikola Vucevic has been able to get loose a little bit. He’s the only one of the Bulls’ four leading scorers from the regular season that has actually increased their points per game average in this series.

Some of that is because the Bucks simply let Vucevic let it fly from 3 on pick and pops and such, which has been a good bet! Vucevic has shot 30.3 percent on 33 total attempts (the most on the Bulls in this series).

Now that LaVine will (likely) be out tonight, I’m interested to see how their defense against Vucevic changes. They could be more willing to send double teams now that the Bulls’ best 3-point shooter is out and the spacing around Vucevic will be DeRozan (reluctant to shoot 3s), Alex Caruso (who they dared to shoot from 3), Patrick Williams (inconsistent), and one of Coby White (inconsistent) or Ayo Dosunmu (inconsistent).

Then again, they’ve done a pretty darn good job shutting down the Bulls from scoring at the rim (and in general) through four games so maybe no need to fix what ain’t broken.