The Chicago Bulls season ended inevitably on Wednesday night when the team crumpled against the Milwaukee Bucks in a 5-1 game defeat 116-100 to close the first round of the top seven.
The chances of the “Bulls” became unlikely after the launch of Alex Caruso (concussion) and Zach LaVine (COVID-19) excluded from game 5 early wednesday. Bucks fans weren’t thrilled when they hit the Fiserv Forum – they were waiting.
Even Bulls coach Billy Donavan arrived in Milwaukee with a muted positive.
“Let’s see what happens tonight,” Donavan said before the game. “Look, strange things happened.”
The only unexpected part of the loss was the state line of Demar Derozan.
When there was no LaVina to balance the score, the burden of the Bulls attack fell entirely on Derozan’s shoulders. After his game of 41 points in his victory in the 2nd game, the Bulls knew what Derosan was capable of under duress, but also the Bucks, who spent the night rushing in the way of the All-Star Forward.
DeRozan couldn’t cut through the swarm of Bucks defenders that surrounded him every time he touched the ball. Derozan’s every look at the basket was obscured by a double or triple command and he made just one hit in the first quarter.
“I expected it, but I didn’t want to get carried away and just try to get out and shoot 30 times,” Derozan said. “I trusted my guys. I didn’t care how many shots they missed, every time I felt I had the right pass, I tried to make the right game. ”
Derozan finished with 11 points while shooting 5 out of 10, despite spending only five minutes on the bench.
The Bucks were clearly pleased to have allowed any other player in the Bulls jersey to strike – unless it was Derosan. The tactics bore fruit.
Time and time again Derozan scored in the triple team, and then threw the ball to the perimeter. But every time the result was the same. Balloon. Brick. Turnover. The Bulls moved the ball more smoothly than in most series, but it didn’t matter if the shots didn’t hit.
The Bulls threw 42.4% off the field and made just 15 of their record 52 attempts for a 3-point arc (28.8%). Rookie Ayo Dosunmu started his first playoff game instead of Caruso in the playoffs and finished with eight points and one assist. Kobe White finished the ice shooting with 17 points with a 3-point shot 4 to 13.
Patrick Williams scored 22 points, but could not compare with the aggression of the Bucks. Nikola Vuchevich scored 19 points and went from 3 to 9 from the 3-point distance.
“We’re certainly a better shooting team than what we showed today,” Donavan said.
The loss ended a grim offensive series against Bucks. The Bulls finished five games, shooting less than 40% off the field and averaging 95.2 points.
The situation worsened to 9:41 in the second quarter, when the Bucks doubled the score to 40-20. Janis Antetokunmpa led the Bucks with 33 points, scoring 49.4% off the field. In the third quarter, the Bulls cut the deficit in half, but a barrage of six 3-points helped the Bucks regain a 20-point lead.
The loss left a sour note at the end of the growing season for the Bulls, who returned to the postseason and for the first time in five years finished with a winning record. DeRozan’s arrival in Chicago sparked a season of broken records and winning streaks.
But the litany of injuries ranges from Williams’ wrist surgery and torn meniscus in Lonza Bola, which ended the season, to Caruso concussion in game 4 – overshadowed the potential of an improved list of “Bulls”.
Due to the fact that LaVina’s contract for the 2022-23 season has expired, the off-season could bring another period of change for the Bulls. Regardless of the composition of the list, Donavan believes that expectations for next season are raised.
“We’re actually going to have to work harder this offseason and next year to even get back to that point,” Donavan said. “A lot of people weren’t sure what our team would look like, and when they started the year, I think (the Bulls) were earning and gaining more and more respect in the league. It will be much harder next year. “