Chicago, Illinois —- A rivalry dating back to the late 1980’s went dormant for about 25 years and was renewed tonight as the Bucks and Bulls started Game 1 of the 2015 NBA playoffs. The Bucks are a young team that went from the worst team last season to the 6th seed this season. The Bulls have been a playoff contender for the past few years. But with injuries and the lack of their star, Derrick Rose, the Bulls haven’t reached their full potential. With all that behind both teams, the Bucks looked to spoil the Bulls home opener, but fail short of their goal. The Bucks got off to a great start in the first quarter and couldn’t miss anything and was shooting 59%, which is out of character for a defensive team.
“The first quarter was fool’s gold for us. We are not an offensive team. That first quarter set a bad tone for us. We gave up 60 points and will have to look at film to see how to stop that. We are not an offensive team and rely on our defense. We fell into a trap scoring the the first quarter. We thought we could outscore Chicago. That is what put us behind in the first half.” said Coach Jason Kidd.
The Bucks high power offense fell off dramatically in the second quarter. The Bucks went from shooting 13 for 22 from the field in the first quarter (59%) to shooting a cold 7 for 24 (29%) in the second quarter which put them down 60-51 at the half. The Bucks could never recover from their shooting woes and the Bulls continued to pile on the points, leading 86-75 at the end of the third quarter, and ultimately winning the game 103-91.
“I thought they got into the open floor off our turnovers. Once we settled down a bit, we did a better job of getting back and getting ahead of the ball. They put a lot of pressure on you, they are a terrific team,” said Coach Tom Thibodeau about Milwaukee’s hot start and how he got his team to cool off the Bucks.
All is not gloom for the Milwaukee Bucks as they had a lot of help from their bench players. Milwaukee’s bench provided the team with 31 points, and their star Kris Middleton led all Bucks scorers with 18 points shooting 7/17 from the field.
“We gave up a lot of easy points and 2nd chance points. We have to do a better job of finishing off possessions,” Middleton said about the hot start in the first quarter. He went on to speak about possible nervousness of the younger players. “I dont think that was a factor. We just have to do a better job of playing defense and not commit fouls. We see the way the games are being called and contested.”
The biggest story of the game was the explosiveness of Derrick Rose. The second leading scorer for the Bulls, Rose had 23 points and shot 9 for 16 from the field and 3 for 7 from downtown. He displayed a lot of flashes of the vintage Derrick in his first playoff game since April 2012 vs. Philadelphia when he first tore his ACL.
“It felt good. It felt normal. I’m grateful to be playing again, playing with my teammates. They allow me to play the way I normally play. I’m really fortunate. I think anywhere else it wouldn’t be the same. They give me motivation, they’re pushing me, and it feels good,” said Rose. “When you miss a long period of time, playing a sport you love playing, dedicating your life to one craft or art, it comes out in a weird way. I didn’t mean to do it on purpose (displaying emotions) it just came out. I’ve been in grind mode, this entire time I’ve been grinding. I feel like I’ve been preparing myself for this game tonight. Hopefully I can do the same next game.”
Now that game 1 is in the books, and with game 2 only 48 hours away, the Bucks will look to improve on their mistakes. One thing that will make this series interesting is guard play. Michael Carter-Williams box score don’t look too impressive tonight (nine points, four rebounds, three assists, and two steals), but he played fearlessly against Derrick Rose. Game 2 Monday night in Chicago at 7pm. Chicago now leads the series 1-0.