By Terrance Turner
The Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Chicago Bulls handily tonight, besting them 116-100 in Game 5 at Fiserv Forum. After splitting the first two games of the series with the Bulls, the Bucks dominated them with three straight games. They did so without Khris Middleton, who suffered an MCL sprain early in the series. But Bulls guards Zach LaVine (health and safety protocols) and Alex Caruso (concussion protocol) were both sidelined for Wednesday’s game, making it impossible for them to overcome their 3-1 deficit.
Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo scored the first points of the game; when Bobby Portis missed a far-flung three, Giannis slammed the ball down with one hand. He continued to make plays, scoring 15 points in the first quarter alone. The Bucks shook off a slow start, but took control with a 12-0 run for a 20-7 lead.
Giannis suffered a scary injury towards the end of the first quarter when he fell and hurt his wrist. Spectators held their breath, but Antetokounmpo got right back to business, hitting two free throws after his fall and then adding a three-throw play. He had his wrist wrapped and then hit the first Bucks baskets of the second quarter, giving Milwaukee a 38-20 lead.
According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Chicago center Nikola Vucevic hit a layup 22 seconds into the second quarter, but the Bulls didn’t score for more than four minutes. The Bucks scored 15 unanswered points and took a 49-20 advantage on a three-pointer by Wesley Matthews. They overcame a furious rally by the Bulls to maintain a commanding lead. Milwaukee led 60-42 by halftime.
The Bulls continued to fight hard in the third quarter, and they managed to cut the deficit to 11. But with the score 66-55, the Bucks’ skillful passing gave way to a three-pointer stunner from Bobby Portis. He hit another three-pointer seconds later, pushing the lead to 17. That lead swelled to 27 near the end of the third quarter.
Milwaukee continued to dominate throughout the fourth quarter, hitting a plethora of wide-open shots. With LaVine and Caruso out, the pressure was on Bulls’ DeMar Derozan. But the Bucks contained him. All 10 of DeRozan’s field goal attempts were contested, and he was double-teamed 27 times in Game 5, the most doubles of a single player in a playoff game in the past three seasons, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information. He faced 24 double-teams in the previous four games combined.
Antetokounmpo finished with 33 points and nine rebounds. He went 11-for-15 shooting, helping power Milwaukee to a win. The Bucks won, 116-100. They advance after winning the series four games to one. They will face the Boston Celtics in the second round of the NBA playoffs. That series will begin Sunday, May 1, in Boston.
“After Game 2, we kind of talked about how — we know what the deal was. The team knew what the deal was. We knew what we had to do We had to be desperate. We had to go out there and compete, pay attention to detail as much as possible, you know? Help one another defensively. We had to do it as a team. It’s not a one-man show,” Antetokounmpo said after the game.