DeMar DeRozan's Struggles Cost Bulls Golden Opportunity in Game 1 vs. Giannis, Bucks

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVApril 18, 2022

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo tries to get past Chicago Bulls' Nikola Vucevic during the first half of Game 1 of their first round NBA playoff basketball game Sunday, April 17, 2022, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
AP Photo/Morry Gash

Perhaps no team in the entire NBA playoffs had a tougher draw in the first round than the Chicago Bulls going up against the reigning-champion Milwaukee Bucks, but the visitors blew a golden opportunity to steal Game 1 on the road in Sunday's 93-86 loss.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was brilliant as usual with 27 points, 16 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a plus-minus of plus-19, but Chicago still held a lead with fewer than six minutes remaining because Giannis was in foul trouble and played just 34 minutes.


Giannis off the glass to Giannis 😤<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NBAPlayoffs?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NBAPlayoffs</a> presented by Google Pixel on TNT <a href="https://t.co/gC7dvfaTpL">pic.twitter.com/gC7dvfaTpL</a>

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Giannis Antetokounmpo had his 30th career playoff game with 25 points &amp; 10 rebounds, the 2nd most in Bucks history.<br><br>Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has more (41). <a href="https://t.co/ECvynbpVcO">pic.twitter.com/ECvynbpVcO</a>


WILD FINISH BY GIANNIS 🤯 <a href="https://t.co/T6J8IgFRgG">pic.twitter.com/T6J8IgFRgG</a>

Yet Chicago's stars failed in the biggest moments.

While the Bulls came storming back from a 16-point deficit and had every opportunity to win in crunch time, they couldn't overcome DeMar DeRozan shooting 6-of-25, Zach LaVine shooting 6-of-19 and Nikola Vucevic shooting 9-of-27 from the field. DeRozan missed shot after shot from his typical dominant mid-range spots, and Vucevic was ineffective at the rim far too many times.

Dan Wolken @DanWolken

The Bulls should have won this game.


Coby White drains the triple to give the Bulls their first lead of the night 👀 <a href="https://t.co/IBV4tECKNv">pic.twitter.com/IBV4tECKNv</a>

Laurence Holmes @LaurenceWHolmes

Giannis switching off onto DeRozan is fascinating cause he doesn’t have to jump to effectively contest. So the ball-fake is superfluous. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Bulls?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Bulls</a>

Sam Vecenie @Sam_Vecenie

The level to which the Bulls are better when Alex Caruso is out there is so staggering. He just makes everything so much easier for them on both ends of the court. The defense gets the love, but his ability to drive, handle, pass and make decisions is so big even on offense.

Sam Vecenie @Sam_Vecenie

Alex Caruso has been the best player on the court for the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter. The two teams have combined for 13 points, and he’s just blowing up everything the Bucks want on offense. This is WILD. This is his kind of quarter.

Joe Cowley @JCowleyHoops

Every time DeMar falls down and doesn't get the call, Holiday screams for the Bucks to run. Moral of the story: Stop falling down!

Sean Highkin @highkin

The turn on DeMar from Bulls fans has been EXPEDITIOUS

Jason Patt @Bulls_Jay

DeMar’s worst game of the season so far. Man.

Jarrett Payton @paytonsun

The crazy thing is DeMar DeRozan is having an off night and the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Bulls?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Bulls</a> are in this game.

Dan Bernstein @dan_bernstein

DeMar has to understand better what's going on. Not his turn, there. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Bulls?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Bulls</a>

jason c. @netw3rk

tbf, this right here is kinda why people doubted the derozan move

Josh Eberley 🇨🇦 @JoshEberley


Jason Patt @Bulls_Jay

Bulls stars stunk it up. Simple as that. They battled. But they stunk it up.

It would be difficult to draw up a better chance to steal one on the road than the one Chicago had Sunday with Alex Caruso making plays on defense, Coby White providing a spark off the bench, Milwaukee's role players struggling at times and Antetokounmpo limited because of fouls and substitution patterns.

However, the Bulls stars bricked their way to a Game 1 loss and will be under even more pressure in Wednesday's Game 2.