Bulls’ Pau Gasol welcomes double-teams from Bucks

SHARE Bulls’ Pau Gasol welcomes double-teams from Bucks
SHARE Bulls’ Pau Gasol welcomes double-teams from Bucks

A 46-point performance isn’t easily forgotten.

On some possessions Saturday, it wasn’t forgiven, either.

On Jan. 10, Pau Gasol scored a career-high 46 points on 17-for-30 shooting in a Bulls victory against the Bucks. That’s why in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series he found himself double-teamed by the Bucks’ bigs almost every time he caught the ball in the post. That’s also why those bigs had no problem knocking Gasol to the floor more than a few times.

In the two regular-season meetings that followed his 46-point outburst, Gasol scored 15 and 14 points. He was held to 10 points on 5-for-17 shooting Saturday.

If that’s the plan for Bucks coach Jason Kidd and his up-and-coming team, Gasol welcomes it.

“They tried to make it tough for me to score,’’ Gasol said. “When I catch it on the post, it’s an automatic pretty much double-team. They have done that the last three games that we’ve played against them after that [January] night, but I don’t anticipate them always sticking to that.

“The playoffs are about adjustments and keeping you off-balance, so you have to be ready for whatever they throw at you. But if they’re going to continue, we’re going to have to make them pay and somebody is going to get an open shot because we’re such a willing team to move the ball, make plays for each other and find the open man.’’

That’s exactly what Gasol and his teammates did in their 103-91 victory in Game 1. In fact, the Bucks are 1-2 since they began keying on Gasol, but the one victory came without Derrick Rose on the court.

Gasol got a lot of the attention while Rose and Jimmy Butler got all the points. They combined for 48 on 17-for-30 shooting.

“It definitely puts them in a difficult position,’’ Gasol said. “[Saturday] night, Derrick definitely played really well. That makes a big difference, and now they have to be more aware of him. And they might be more concerned and more aggressive with him defensively, so that’s going to open up somebody else.

“That’s the beauty of our team: We have so many offensive weapons, and we can make them pay in different ways.’’

So how will the Bucks adjust? Will they stay the course on Gasol and dare the inconsistent Rose to stay hot? Will they put the double teams to rest? One thing is for sure: An adjustment is coming.

“The biggest adjustment is usually the intensity,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “You’re playing the same team over and over. So the strengths and weaknesses of a team aren’t going to change. You can add a play or two or change a coverage, but when you prepare for the team, you’re looking at what they did over the course of a season.’’

Obviously, those 46 points had staying power.

“I guess that made them react,’’ Gasol said. “Just like they’ll probably react to something we did [Saturday] differently. So we just got to be ready for the adjustments that they’re going to make against us, read the game and make it easy for each other.’’

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com

Twitter: @suntimes_hoops

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