Bulls’ Billy Donovan wants more space, pace Vs. Bucks in Game 4 – NBC Chicago

Donovan wants more space, pace against Bucks in Game 4 originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Several times in the aftermath of the blowout loss to the Chicago Bulls that restored home-court advantage to the Milwaukee Bucks in their best-of-seven playoff series, coach Billy Donovan said he wanted to rewatch the footage of the game to confirm first impressions.

Donovan and his team did this Saturday afternoon at the Advocate Center before Game 4 on Sunday.

And both in Donovan’s first response to his Friday night postgame media briefing and again after Saturday’s film review, he came to the same conclusion.

“They were the aggressor, the most physical team,” Donovan said Saturday. “They set that tone very, very early in the game. And we haven’t responded as well as necessary, really, on both sides of the room.

That physique came in part from Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer’s decision to start Bobby Portis for the injured Khris Middleton. Although Donovan said the decision didn’t catch the Bulls off guard, talking about the possibility and experiencing it are two different things.

Portis finished with 18 points and 16 rebounds and added more size to an already elite defense and rim protection and lane walling. Nothing was easy offensively for the Bulls, who didn’t register a quick break point until the fourth quarter and failed to make double-digit free throw attempts before catch-up time.

“You have to make quick decisions against them,” Donovan said. “They do a really good job with their length and size protecting the rim. When you get there, you need to make good choices and wise decisions.

But it wasn’t just Portis. Grayson Allen checked in and aggressively drove the ball after creating space with a 3-point shot. The Bucks used the textbook transition defense to keep the Bulls stuck in the mud and rely on a half-court offense that just doesn’t have enough options these days.

Yes, DeRozan is the author of a 41-point performance in Game 2. But he only took nine shots before sitting on the stretch in a nod to the blowout loss and the first tip of Sunday. Zach LaVine continues to play through his recalcitrant left knee, limiting his burst of dribbling and athleticism. And after the Bucks conceding 3-point open looks to Nikola Vucevic, the Bulls don’t get much from Patrick Williams, Coby White or, within minutes, Ayo Dosunmu.

Williams missed all nine shots and scored a point. According to Donovan, Williams wasn’t as aggressive as he needed to be early and then overcompensated.

“I didn’t like the shots in the fourth quarter,” Donovan said. “I think there were opportunities for him to be aggressive in that first half and especially in the third quarter. And when he came back after that, I think he was trying to be aggressive but… “He probably didn’t take the right ones at that time. He has to be aggressive. It’s important for our team and it helps us when he does that. He has to be a bit more powerful when those opportunities come up.

On several occasions, Donovan cited the need for better spacing. On Friday night he added the need for a faster pace.

Pace and space were buzzwords when the Bulls hired Fred Hoiberg, and they’re important again in this series.

Donovan rightfully downplayed Sunday’s noon start time, even though it marks the first caution of the season. It’s the same for both teams. And neither team overplayed their starters because of the unbalanced scoreline.

Otherwise, Donovan said the Bulls are in a good place mentally and again underscored the formative experiences these games create for a core playing their first season together.

“They have to understand the fact that it was a triple overtime game and whether we lost on a half-court buzzer or we lost by 75 points, that’s quite a game,” said Donovan. “And I think when you come out of a game, whether you win by 30 or lose by 30, there are residual effects that come from that. I think that’s for any competitive group of guys .

The Bulls’ response on Sunday will be telling. Donovan said each game in a series reveals a bit more about a team.

The Bucks have regained home-court advantage, with the emotional and demonstrative Portis even tripping once on a United Center pitch he once called home. What are the Bulls going to do about it?

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Bulls' Billy Donovan wants more space, pace Vs. Bucks in Game 4 – NBC Chicago

NBC Chicago

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