CHICAGO — This is more like what we thought this series would look like. Tough, physical, low-scoring. It was the kind of game the Bucks needed it to be in order to have a shot, and for a while, it looked like they might pull it out. But a scoring explosion from Jimmy Butler in the fourth quarter helped Chicago put the game away 91-82 and take a 2-0 series lead.
The physicality was evident in the second quarter, when a collision between Aaron Brooks and John Henson led to a skirmish at midcourt with four players receiving technicals. Then, in the fourth quarter, another altercation occurred between Zaza Pachulia and Nikola Mirotic, with Pachulia being tossed.
“This is the playoffs,” said Bucks coach Jason Kidd. “It’s going to be physical. Both teams are competing to win.”
“It’s an emotional game,” added Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. “I want us to play with a lot of toughness. But I also want us to play smart. So where do you stop? You stop right before it becomes physical. I don’t want anyone thrown out. I don’t want any of that stuff. But I don’t want to take our emotion away from us, either.”
There was plenty of emotion on both sides on Monday. There was also plenty of ugliness. Both teams shot under 40 percent from the field, and the Bucks led the Bulls 16-11 after the first quarter. Derrick Rose, fresh off an outstanding performance in Game 1, started the game 0-for-7 in the first half before waking up in the second half.
Mirotic suffered a left knee leg in the collision with Pachulia. He was officially diagnosed with a quad strain and he will be reevaluated in the morning.
Regardless, the Bulls don’t hold the added physicality of this game against the Bucks, or feel that they crossed any lines.
“We’ve got to let it go,” Butler said. “That’s what we expect. They try to get in your head. That’s playoff basketball.”