As the Milwaukee Bucks prepare for game two of their playoff series against the Chicago Bulls tonight, you could forgive them if they were having nightmares about Derrick Rose.
Rose had not played in a playoff game since April 28, 2012 until he returned in game one of the series Saturday night.
"It was exciting," said Bulls guard and former Marquette star Jimmy Butler. "He makes everything easier for everybody."
Everybody on the Bulls is what he meant. His game makes it a lot harder on the opponent.
Rose looked like he had never missed a minute of playing time with two incredibly serious knee injuries. When healthy, he could well be the most exciting player in the NBA.
For a guard, he has a tremendous inside game, slashing and driving to the basket and making the other team reach helplessly to try and stop him. Then he backs up and can shoot three pointers at crucial times. He finished the night with 23 points on 9 of 16 shooting, hitting three of seven from beyond the arc. For good measure, he added seven assists.
"Obviously he makes our team a lot different," said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.
Rose is the main focus of the Bulls now, and the Bucks have to find a way to at least keep him from going nuts. With him in the lineup, the Bulls had a huge advantage over the Bucks.
Chicago outrebounded Milwaukee, 52-41, and had 36 assists to just 22 for Bucks. Chicago also shot 46% while the Bucks hit just 39%.
Perhaps the most telling statistic was the 60-51 halftime score in favor of the Bulls. For the first half, the game looked like a track meet with a frantic pace moving up and down the floor.
"It was a fool’s gold for us," said coach Jason Kidd. "That’s not the kind of team we are. We are not an offensive team. We’ll go back and look at the film and make adjustments."
With the excitement of the playoffs, it’s often hard for a young team to avoid the temptation to be an offensive force. Don’t forget that when these kids were playing in their driveways, they didn’t envision making a steal or a big stop. The saw themselves hitting the final shot to win the game.
Khris Middleton, who led the Bucks with 18 points, said he was disappointed in the first game, but he knew what had to happen to make game two more competitive.
"If we shoot the ball better and play better defense, it will be a better game for us," he said.
The game, airing on both TNT and Fox Sports Wisconsin, starts at 7 p.m.
With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.
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