By Cody Westerlund–
(CBS) A day after a 103-91 win in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round series, the Bulls expect the defensive-minded Milwaukee Bucks to get more physical to combat Chicago’s offensive effectiveness.READ MORE: Phase 2 Opens Monday In Illinois Outside Chicago For Anyone 16 And Over To Get COVID-19 Vaccine, But Teens Under 18 Face Challenge
The Bulls hung 86 points in the first three quarters Saturday night, and their 103 points marked the first time in five matchups this season that either team had topped 95 points. Against a double-teaming, long-armed scrambling defense, Chicago found success with crisp ball movement, which included a bevy of cross-court passes as Milwaukee often overloaded the ball side. The Bulls assisted on 30 of their 38 field goals.
As such, Chicago expects Milwaukee to adjust for Game 2 and provide more resistance in the paint, which Bucks coach Jason Kidd rued a lack of following Game 1.
“It’s going to be more physical,” Bulls forward Taj Gibson said. “I know for a fact. Every playoff game, the next game after the first one’s a lot more intense.”
Added Pau Gasol: “As teams get a little more desperate, they’re going to try to do what they can, and the physicality may go up, for sure.”
In his first playoff action since April 2012, Derrick Rose spearheaded the Chicago offense with 23 points and seven assists. Rose mentioned after the game that he had ample room to operate, citing the Bucks’ lack of double teams, though Milwaukee did blitz its share of pick-and-rolls. What the Bucks did on the outside, though, had little effect, as Rose got to the rim “without resistance,” Kidd said.
In the second quarter alone, Rose had three layups, a dunk and a seven-foot floater that he converted. The Bulls expect a Bucks squad that was third in the NBA in defensive efficiency to adjust after Rose and backcourt mate Jimmy Butler combined for 48 points on 17-of-30 shooting.READ MORE: United Center COVID-19 Vaccination Site To Switch To Single-Shot Johnson & Johnson Vaccine
“They’re a very physical defensive team,” Thibodeau said. “They’ve been that all year. People have been physical with Derrick before. Derrick has a very unique skill set because he can find the power and strength along with the speed and quickness. So that type of stuff, I think he handles very well.”
Rose sat out the second half of Chicago’s regular-season finale Wednesday because of left knee soreness, but a day after playing 27-plus minutes Saturday, he was in good shape health-wise. Rose underwent a right knee procedure on Feb. 27 and missed 20 games rehabbing the injury.
“He said he felt well,” Thibodeau said Sunday. “No problems.”
As for the injury report, reserve guard Kirk Hinrich’s “a little better,” Thibodeau said, but his status remains uncertain for Game 2 as he deals with a hyperextended left knee. Hinrich missed the last two regular-season games and Saturday’s contest.
Gibson added that he’s “fine” for Game 2. He’s been bothered for some time by a left shoulder strain that’s still sore, and he suffered a right knee strain in the fourth quarter Saturday. Gibson could’ve returned if needed, but the Bulls already had the game in hand.
“I feel better,” Gibson said.MORE NEWS: SWAT Team Dispatched After Man Barricades Himself In Home On Halsted Street In Lincoln Park
Cody Westerlund is a sports editor for CBSChicago.com and covers the Bulls. Follow him on Twitter @CodyWesterlund.