Not every playoff win is going to be pretty for the defending champion Bucks. And that’s just fine with them, guard Jrue Holiday said after Sunday’s 98-86 scrappy win over the Bulls in Game 1 of the first round.
“We’ve got to win the ugly games,” Holiday said. “I feel like today was ugly. It was a battle and it was tough, but it was an ugly one.”
The Bucks blew a 17-point lead before gutting it out to retake command midway through the fourth quarter.
“The whole team was kind of out of rhythm,” star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo said. “We weren’t able to find one another as easy as we usually find one another and make shots. We missed a bunch of open shots today. Usually we make those and we get energy.”
- Interestingly, the Bucks won Game 1 for just the second time in their previous seven series. Game 2 isn’t until Wednesday, also in Milwaukee.
Because of the extra day between Games 1 and 2, the Bulls actually headed back to Chicago after the game. Chicago and Milwaukee are a mere 90 miles apart.
“If we would have had to play Sunday-Tuesday, I think we would have definitely stayed here,” Coach Billy Donovan said. “But I think because we have two days, we have a chance to get home at a decent time, those guys can sleep in their own bed, practice tomorrow, practice Tuesday and then come back up.”
- Star wing DeMar DeRozan talked confidently despite shooting just 6-of-25. Meanwhile, guard Zach LaVine was just 6-of-19 and center Nikola Vucevic was 9-of-27. “Every shot I took tonight felt good,” DeRozan said. “I guarantee you that me, Zach and Vooch (Nikola Vucevic) aren’t going to miss that many shots again.”
- Overall, the Bulls have lost 17 of 18 vs. the Bucks.
Guard Chris Paul said the Suns are well aware that opponents are gunning for the defending Western Conference champions more than ever.
“We watch games all day, every day,” he said after the Suns sailed past the Pelicans in Game 1 of the first round. “We got to watch all the games (Saturday). We watched the games today. We know in the playoffs, teams aren’t going to lay down.”
Paul has never won a title, but showed he hopes to change all that, scoring 19 of his 30 points vs. the Pelicans in the fourth quarter.
“That man’s a true competitor, a true winner,” guard Devin Booker said. “He wants it that bad. You can see it in his demeanor, you can see it in his walk. It shouldn’t surprise anybody. He’s built for these moments.”
- First-year Pelicans coach was an assistant under Monty Williams with the Suns last season, but Williams said they’ve kept the communication to a minimum. “We haven’t had some long, drawn-out conversation with violins playing behind us or anything like that,” Williams said. “We’ve got to prepare our teams to play. I’m looking forward to the competition.”