There’s only one way for the Milwaukee Bucks, down 3-1 in their playoff series with the Chicago Bulls, to somehow turn this series into an interesting: Keep forcing the turnovers.
The Bucks led the NBA in the regular season by forcing 17.4 per game. They’ve been doing a very good job, at least in that aspect, in this series so far. The Bulls are the worst in the playoffs in turnover ratio with 18.1%, are giving the ball up 20 times per game in this series and lost it 28 times in the game 4 loss, including 20 of them to steals.
The Bucks have scored 96 points off of those 80 turnovers. For a team with an offensive efficiency rating of 92.6, making things wild and fast is pretty much their only way of scoring or keeping up with the Bulls. Even with such a discrepancy between the team’s turnover numbers in game 4, they still needed a buzzer beater from Jerryd Bayless to win the game.
The Bulls need to be a bit more focused and careful, but they don’t seem too excited about dropping on in the series. Derrick Rose said that it wouldn’t have gone down the same way had this been a game 7 or something more important, and he and his teammates simply got a little bit complacent. Tom Thibodeau wasn’t too happy to hear that coming out of his star’s mouth.
Rose needs to find a way to be a bit more consistent. He scored just 14 points in game 4, making the crucial turnover and the defensive error that allowed the Bucks to win the game. He has 57 points on 21-of-39 shooting in Games 1 and 3 and scoring 29 while shooting 9 for 27 in Games 2 for 4. The Bulls need that same kind of odd numbers form from him once more to close out this series and start preparing for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Bulls have their ‘sure thing’ in Jimmy Butler, but they need to find a way to get Joakim Noah more involved (only 4.5 points on six shots per game), and hope that Nikola Mirotic is healing from his injury. He is averaging just 4.5 points in this series after averaging 17.7 over the last 23 of the regular season. The Bulls have the better lineup, but they need a bit more from their bench.
One thing that stands as a very interesting aspect is the Bulls’ record at home. They’ve won their last nine games at the United Center by an average of 12.9 points, not to mention holding the Bucks to just 86 points per game in the first two contests of this postseason. The Bucks have lost five in a row in Chicago, although they were able to break along playoff losing streak in the previous game. Why not break another one in game 5?