Coming into Game 5, it was going to take a heroic effort from the Chicago Bulls to extend this first-round playoff series. With Alex Caruso out due to a concussion and Zach LaVine in the health and safety protocols, the Bulls were extremely shorthanded head into Fiserv Forum.
Many expected this game not to be closed and, frankly, it’s exactly what took place.
Milwaukee jumped on Chicago early and went up by 16 in the first quarter and 29 early in the second quarter before settling on an 18-point advantage at halftime. There was a bit of hope that Chicago could make this a game when the deficit got down to 11 early in the third quarter, but it was quickly dashed as Milwaukee punched back to push it out to as many as 27 again. Like the prior two games, the fourth quarter was essentially garbage time as the lights closed on the 2021-22 Bulls season with a 116-100 loss.
Chicago came into this game with a plan of launching from downtown, attempting a playoff franchise-high 52 3-pointers. However, they didn’t have much success as only 15 of those attempts went into the basket for a paltry 28.8 percent. It was a bit frustrating to watch as most of these 3-point shots were good and open looks. With Milwaukee’s defense packing the paint and swarming DeMar DeRozan again, there were kickout opportunities for the Bulls to strike. The only way they had a chance of making this a close one was to drill shots from deep as they did in Game 2. Instead, they were ice cold again as a bunch of bad 3-point shoots missed great looks.
Overall, it was a tough game for Chicago offensively with a 42.4 overall shooting percentage (51.6 true shooting) to go along with 16 turnovers, which led to 26 points by Milwaukee. Chicago’s defense fought hard and also forced 16 turnovers as well but couldn’t take advantage as they led to just 12 points. They did manage to swing the ball a lot to open teammates, generating 24 assists on 39 made baskets, but once again failed to get to line a lot. Chicago as a team shot 11 free throws, with Derrick Jones Jr. being the only one to attempt more than two.
Patrick Williams led Chicago in scoring with 23 points. One positive from his performance was he took 13 attempts, the second-most on the team with seven of them from deep. He hit four 3-pointers and added an offensive rebound as well, though that was his lone rebound on the night as he didn’t contribute anything besides his shooting while also turning it over four times. Nikola Vucevic had a double-double of 19 points and 16 boards along with six assists. He once again struggled to stretch the floor, hitting just three of his nine attempts from deep. There was a scary moment early when he slipped and hit his head hard on the court, but he seemed to be alright and continued to play.
As noted, DeRozan was once again hounded by the Bucks and forced to give up the ball whenever he got the ball in the mid-range. He finished with 11 points on 5-of-10 shooting but had seven assists along with three steals.
Coby White ended up playing 32 minutes as he scored 17 points on 4-of-13 shooting from 3 while getting four assists. Ayo Dosunmu had eight points and three rebounds as a starter, but he struggled to a 3-of-11 shooting night (1-of-4 from 3). Javonte Green somehow racked up a whopping seven steals in a starting role, but he was atrocious offensively and went 1-of-8 overall and 0-of-5 from 3, with 4 turnovers. Being without Caruso or LaVine, Billy Donovan went deeper into his bench than he normally would. DJJ had nine points (1-of-5 from 3) and a rebound, while Troy Brown Jr. notched 10 points along with six boards and three assists. However, he shot just 4-of-11 overall and 2-of-9 from 3. Tristan Thompson played just seven minutes with two rebounds, while Tony Bradley was in for a brief stint, notching a rebound and an assist.
Meanwhile, the Bucks had six guys in double figures. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way with a dominating 33 points on 11-of-15 shooting. Pat Connaughton scored 20 thanks to six 3-pointers, while Bobby Portis pitched in with 14. Milwaukee nearly matched Chicago from 3-land despite 16 fewer attempts and then dominated in the painted area, outscoring the Bulls 54-30 in that category.
With this defeat, we now head to the offseason for the Chicago Bulls. There were numerous brilliant moments to look back upon. When healthy and at their best, the Bulls played really fun basketball. Now the onus is on the front office to make moves this summer to improve on that. Despite faltering down the stretch late in the regular season along with a playoff defeat, it was still an enjoyable season and one worth being proud of.