Physicality of Game 1 ‘price of admission’ if Bulls want to win series

The Bulls didn’t make a lot of adjustments in practice Monday as they prepared for Game 2 on Wednesday in Milwaukee. According to Alex Caruso, a bunch of adjustments weren’t needed.

SHARE Physicality of Game 1 ‘price of admission’ if Bulls want to win series
The Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan shoots past the Bucks’ Brook Lopez during the second half of Game 1.

The Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan shoots past the Bucks’ Brook Lopez during the second half of Game 1.

Morry Gash/AP

Bulls guard Alex Caruso felt sore Monday.

He wasn’t alone, either. Or at least he felt like he shouldn’t be.

Holding the defending-champion Bucks to 93 points less than 24 hours earlier required a level of intensity and physicality that the Bulls appeared to be incapable of reaching for weeks. It came with a cost.

As coach Billy Donovan explained, that was just “the price of admission’’ to playoff basketball.

“You don’t do that, you’ve got no chance,’’ Donovan said. “So we’ve got to build off of that, but we’ve also got to clean up the mistakes that we made. I think it’s two parts, and I think for some of our guys going through this for the first time it’s not only competing, but it’s also the competing coupled with the attention to detail and the execution on both ends of the floor.

“There’s things that we can do better, but [the physicality] is just the price of admission to get to play. And if you don’t have that piece of it, even if we shot the ball better … I don’t think the game for us was lost because we didn’t shoot well. Would that have helped? Absolutely. [The Bucks have] been in these situations, they’ve got a lot of experience in it, been battle-tested, so they understand what they have to do.’’

That’s what Game 2 of the first-round playoff series Wednesday at Fiserv Forum could come down to — not only playing with that same physicality, but also executing better.

Caruso took offense to the idea that Game 1 on Sunday was poorly played, despite both teams shooting well below their averages and the Bucks committing 21 turnovers.

“I thought both teams fought,” he said. “I thought both teams executed kind of what they wanted to do, their imprint on the game. Making or missing shots doesn’t necessarily mean you played well or played bad. To hold that team to [93] points, bunch of turnovers, not a lot of teams this year did that. For them to hold us to [86], guys miss open shots, but at the end of the day, the physicality of the game, the intensity of the game, I thought both teams played pretty well. Both teams played like they’re here to fight for their lives.’’

That’s why practice wasn’t about making all sorts of adjustments and reworking the rotation. Caruso said the Bulls didn’t go over anything new. They cleaned up missed assignments and discussed tendencies.

“I don’t think we’re down on ourselves,” Caruso said. “I don’t think we’re taking a moral victory from it by any means. I think we’re in a good spot.”

A spot made better by the Bulls at least showing that they’re willing to throw their bodies around and go chest-to-chest with a much more experienced team. They seemed allergic to that for most of March.

So how did that message finally get through?

“It’s the playoffs,” Caruso said. “You lose, you go home. If you can’t get up for that, then you shouldn’t play basketball.

“If you’ve got to hype yourself up or you’ve got to worry about bringing effort and physicality to the playoffs, then you probably shouldn’t be there.”

The Latest
John Hughes went five innings and Jaden Fauske pitched the final two as the Roadrunners beat Sycamore 3-0 at Duly Health and Care Field in Joliet.
Festivals, performances and other events will be held in neighborhoods across the city on Juneteenth and weekend leading up to Monday, June 19.
Pride Month is well underway, with events nearly every day happening around the city. Take a look.
Dr. Confino helped thousands conceive, including Sen. Tammy Duckworth.
The Walk of Fame said Shakur was selected to receive a star in 2013, but the organization waited for his family and estate to select a date. Shakur was given the 2,758th star on the Walk of Fame. His birthday is June 16.