Bulls can’t get rid of pesky Bucks, who force Game 6

SHARE Bulls can’t get rid of pesky Bucks, who force Game 6
SHARE Bulls can’t get rid of pesky Bucks, who force Game 6

All the hype about a Bulls-Cleveland Cavaliers series will have to wait.

Obviously, the up-and-coming Milwaukee Bucks didn’t get the memo that they were simply standing in the way of the inevitable.

‘‘Well, we got Game 6,’’ Bucks coach Jason Kidd declared after his team’s 94-88 victory Monday against the Bulls in Game 5 at the United Center. ‘‘We didn’t just come down here because we won one game. We want to get better each time. Some people look at it as house money, but some people talk about the future. We don’t really know what the future holds for us. We’ve got to stay in the present.’’

The present has seen the Bucks turn an 0-3 hole in the first-round series into playoff life. The Bulls lead the series 3-2, with Game 6 set for Thursday in Milwaukee.

While the suddenly confident Bucks will enter that game with a strut, the Bulls will do so after a lot of soul-searching. That starts with point guard Derrick Rose, who

insisted, ‘‘I’m built for this [stuff],’’ after the Bulls’ loss in Game 4.

Maybe eventually, but not in Game 5. Rose shot 5-for-20, including 0-for-7 from three-point range; followed up an eight-turnover game with six more; and had six shots blocked. He also allowed second-year point guard Michael Carter-Williams to put up 22 points.

‘‘They jumped on us right away,’’ Rose said. ‘‘We just couldn’t turn the things we wanted. The great thing about the playoffs is we play again, so we need to learn from our mistakes.’’

That might be the problem with this Bulls team. There’s too much talking about learning and not enough doing.

Life against the Bucks should be coming easier. While the Bulls might have had their full roster for the start of the playoffs, even coach Tom Thibodeau couldn’t answer whether all the missed practices and games truly made them ready for the Bucks, let alone for the Cavs.

‘‘It’s our reality; it’s a work-in-progress,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘There’s going to be good and bad. Put everything you have into each and every day, and hopefully we’ll get better.’’

The shooting from Rose and Jimmy Butler seemingly couldn’t get any worse. The usually reliable Butler shot 5-for-21 but did manage to grab 10 rebounds and hand out six assists.

Still, Butler said shooting wasn’t the Bulls’ problem.

‘‘It was an off night,’’ Butler said. ‘‘I think it happens. I think you make up for it with your defense. We didn’t do too well on that end of the floor, either. The shots that we take, we think we can make. Take the same ones every time.’’

That’s all well and good, but it still doesn’t answer the question of whether the Bulls are playoff-soft because of the kid-gloves approach the front office took during the regular season.

‘‘Man, I don’t know,’’ veteran Mike Dunleavy said. ‘‘That’s tough to say. It’s different answering that question up 3-0 versus 3-2. Everybody is looking for answers and analysis, different things like that. I don’t think it has any impact on the way this series has played out. Both teams have played kind of the same way through five games, and they’ve come out on top twice, [and] we came out [on top] three times. . . . We’ve been fortunate because of our talent level to come out on top one more game. Hopefully, we can carry that over to the next.’’

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com

Twitter: @suntimes_hoops

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