CHICAGO — On Saturday, the Bulls’ downfall was their 28 turnovers. Monday, they cut those down to 13, but were done in by something they know all too well this season: an inability to make shots.
More than anything, though, they were unable to stop the Bucks’ lengthy backcourt of Michael Carter-Williams and Khris Middleton, who combined for 43 points in Milwaukee’s 94-88 win at the United Center to force a Game 6 on Thursday.
For the Bucks, their improvement throughout the series — two convincing losses, then one in double overtime, then two wins — hasn’t been any single adjustment. Bucks coach Jason Kidd credits it entirely to his team’s work ethic.
“We haven’t changed anything,” Kidd said after the game. “Our whole thing is about playing hard. That’s how we’re built. Offensively and defensively our first emphasis is playing hard. Tonight is a great example of that. We made a run right after they made a run and our guys kept their composure.”
Milwaukee outplayed Chicago from start to finish, which Jimmy Butler admitted.
“They played harder than us,” he said. Whether that’s a sense of complacency or getting caught looking ahead to a likely second-round matchup with Cleveland, they’re now faced with another game against these Bucks when they could have been resting for the Cavs.
The Bucks, though heavy underdogs in the series, aren’t just happy to be here. They have some confidence now, after winning two tough battles in the playoffs with a young team.
“We’re not playing for the people, we’re playing for each other,” said Kidd. “This is what it’s all about. No one else has put us in this position. We just go out there and play our type of basketball. We’ve gotten better. These guys have a lot to lose.”