Driven by Antetokounmpo’s 32 points and 17 rebounds and by the best X-Factor Allen race, the champions overwhelm the Bulls in race-4 and are one victory from the conference semifinal
Irresistible. Milwaukee flexes its muscles again in Chicago, dominating 119-95 Game-4 and taking the 3-1 in the series, an advantage that has only been wasted 13 times in the history of the Playoffs. In game-5, Wednesday at the Fiserv Forum, the champions will have the chance to close their accounts and earn the conference semifinal. The Bulls are trying, but the Bucks are proving superior even without Khris Middleton, lost in Game-2 to a medial collateral injury in his left knee that should keep him still for at least two weeks. Instead of a problem, the loss of the second striker is turning the Bucks into a complete team, with many players (starting with Grayson Allen, who sets his new high in the playoffs at 27 points) ready to lend a hand to Giannis Antetokounmpo, usually irresistible driver (32 points, 17 rebounds and 7 assists). Chicago is on the ropes: in order not to leave the scene in race-5 we would need a masterpiece that these Bulls (who also lost Alex Caruso for a blow to the face) do not seem to have in their ropes.
Milwaukee’s transformation is evident. After Middleton’s injury, a complete and reliable team has blossomed around Antetokounmpo. Allen continues to be the X-Factor: his triples split race-4 as they did in race-4. Bobby Portis (14 points and 10 rebounds) continues to perform great as a replacement in Middleton’s quintet, Jrue Holiday (26 points and 7 assists) continues to be the most underrated star of the entire NBA, capable of putting the muzzle once again to public danger number 1 DeMar DeRozan without forgetting to give an important hand in attack. After losing Game-2 at home, the Bucks in their two games in Chicago dominated, showing on both sides of the field (Chicago held 38.9% from the field) the class of champions that not even the loss of Middleton has diminished.
on the ropes
Chicago seems to have turned off the light. Donovan’s team does not seem to have enough firepower to hold a candle to Milwaukee, especially with DeRozan (unrecognizable with 23 points and 8/20 shooting) trapped in the defensive grip of the Bucks. Zach LaVine lived up to his All Star status only in the first quarter, in which he put 12 of his 24 points: he tried to spin the attack with 13 assists, but the Bulls would have needed more. It is the supporting cast that is missing the most: the other Bulls fail to emerge, to be constant in helping the stars. Only Patrick Williams tried, finishing with 20 points and 10 rebounds but adjusting the boxscore when the race was already compromised. Chicago should completely change its face to become the 14th team in history to come back from 3-1: Donovan’s team, however, does not seem to have yet figured out how to be competitive.
Chicago thanks to LaVine (12 points in the inaugural period) holds up the impact of Milwaukee in the first quarter but goes to the bottom in the second, when Allen (11 points) pushes the Bucks up to 56-41 of rest. Chicago starts again without Caruso and slips under 22 in the opening of the third quarter, but tries to reopen the game with a 17-3 run that DeRozan closes with a free 68-60 Bucks half-run. Giannis, however, returns to put the gears high and thanks to him and Allen Milwaukee restores the distance. The last 12 ‘begin with the guests ahead 90-74: they become a long prologue waiting for game-5.
Chicago: LaVine 24 (6/12 of twos, 2/6 of three, 6/6 free throws), DeRozan 23, Williams 20. Rebounds: Vucevic 10, Williams 10. Assists: LaVine 13.
Milwaukee: G. Antetokounmpo 32 (10/19, 1/3, 9/12 tl), Allen 27, Holiday 26. Rebounds: G. Antetokounmpo 17. Assist: G. Antetokounmpo 7, Holiday 7.
April 24 – 21:35
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