By Terrance Turner
April 17, 2022
The Milwaukee Bucks battled the Chicago Bulls today in Game 1 of their NBA playoff series. The match, played at Fiserv Forum, started off in dominant fashion for the Bucks, but then got very close.
Center Brook Lopez scored the first four points of the game (including two free throws); Giannis Antetokounmpo scored the next five (a four-foot two-pointer and a 27-foot three). The Bucks went on a 9-0 run to open the quarter. Bulls’ Nikola Vucevic made a 27-foot three-point jumper (Alex Caruso assisted), but Khris Middleton responded with a two-point shot of his own.
Bulls small forward DeMar DeRozan scored his first points of the game with a jump shot, but Brook Lopez answered with a 27-foot three-pointer. Antetokounmpo followed that up with a slam dunk and then scored two points in the paint. It was 18-5 with 6:29 remaining. Then — after two free throws from DeRozan — Giannis assisted Wesley Matthews with a three-pointer. Lopez hit a layup and then scored from 12 feet away. The Bucks maintained a commanding lead through the end of the quarter. It was 34-21 at the end of the first quarter.
Nicola Vucevic and Antetokounmpo traded shots to open the second quarter. DeRozan hit back-to-back shots, but Antetokounmpo answered with a dunk. The Bucks’ lead ranged from 10 to 13 for most of the quarter, until Zach LaVine hit a 26-foot three-point jumper. Then he nailed two free throws to cut the lead to five. Giannis scored from 11 feet and made one of his two free throws, but the Bulls wouldn’t go away.
A double-team on Giannis left Middleton wide-open for the three. Bucks guard Wesley Matthews hit a three-pointer moments later to keep the lead at six. Antetokounmpo was fouled and surprised viewers by hitting both his free throws. That gave him 20 points. Then he fired up the Milwaukee crowd with a dunk.
But Chicago kept hanging around. Eventually, they closed the gap with an 8-0 run. Vucevic hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 64 with 4:39 remaining. With Giannis on the bench, the Bulls had a chance to take the lead. White hit back-to-back shots to make it 69-64 in Chicago’s favor.
Back and forth they went until Bobby Portis hit a corner three to tie the game at 71. Then Antetokounmpo took charge. Flying down the court, he threw the ball upwards with one hand before crash-landing out of bounds. He got the shot — and the foul! Giannis sank his free throw to give Milwaukee back the lead. The Bucks led 74-71 at the end of the third quarter.
Portis got fouled (LaVine’s fifth foul) and went 1 for 2 from the line. Alex Caruso hit the bullseye with a three, cutting the lead to one. It stayed that way for a while, with one missed shot after another for each team. A long scoring drought (over three minutes) finally ended when Holiday finally scored. But Chicago answered right back courtesy of Coby White. Chiicago trailed 76-77 until Vucevic gave the Bulls a one-point edge.
But Milwaukee started to pull away in the final minutes of the game.After Jrue Holiday hit a three, Lopez lumbered his way through defenders for the basket and the foul. He nailed his free throw to give the Bucks a seven-point advantage. It was 85-78 with 3:58 remaining. But the Bulls would not go away. They eventually cut the lead to one. But Lopez leaned in to pick up another basket and a foul. He missed the free throw, leaving it a one-possession game.
The Bulls went for a last-gasp shot, which Bobby Portis rebounded. In the process, he knocked Caruso to the ground. But it was Holiday who ended up being fouled. His two successful free throws made it 91-86 with 15.3 seconds left to play. DeRozan went for a bank shot that was no good. The Bucks got the rebound, and Middleton was fouled, essentially sealing the game. Both of his free throws sailed through the hoop, placing the game out of reach. The Bucks win Game 1, 93-86.
Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 27 points and 16 rebounds, according to Yahoo! Sports. But he wasn’t satisfied with his performance — or that of the team’s. “We kept our composure. We kept getting one step at a time,” Antetokounmpo said after the game. “We didn’t play the best basketball. Nobody played well tonight. But we were able to get the win.”
Brook Lopez had 18 points including three triples. He credited his teammates for the success. “My teammates put me in a great position to finish. Drew, Chris — they all made great passes. I just had to catch it and put it in.” On team defense, he said: “We all have each other’s backs. We’re all there to help.”