By earning the third seed, Chicago is going up against the Milwaukee Bucks tomorrow evening. Most expect the Bulls to roll over the 41-41 Bucks, which is ignoring the fact that Milwaukee wrapped up the year with the fourth best defensive ranking. They are long, agile, and quick. To expect them to just roll over, is premature.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, one of the longest players you'll find on the perimeter in the league, is also one of the most versatile players you'll find out there. Antetokounmpo played 31% of his minutes at shooting guard, 21% at small forward, 41% at power forward and 6% at center according to Basketball-Reference, with the final percent likely divided up amongst the three. In short, expect Antetokounmpo to be put on everyone from Jimmy Butler to Pau Gasol. This could cause problems for the Bulls if Jason Kidd extends Antetokounmpo's minutes and allows him to switch and free-roam in the same way Gregg Popovich use Kawhi Leonard. Antetokounmpo is long enough to challenge Gasol backing him down, quick enough to keep up with Butler on the perimeter, and he could completely nullify Nikola Mirotic over a long series, if Mirotic is once more placed at the three spot where he's forced to move around away from the basket.
Therefore, the Bulls will have to be ready to lay off the isolation plays. Granted, this has for the most part been a play used down the stretch for either Butler or Derrick Rose, but it's worth noting that Antetokounmpo can severely limit the effectivity of such a play-call.
Milwaukee's other wing, Khris Middleton, is about as solid as they come. His defensive rotations for a perimeter player are neat and timed extraordinarily well, and unlike most wings, he doesn't shy away from bumping people off their path if he sees the opportunity. Similarly to Antetokounmpo, Middleton is versatile. 15% of his minutes come at the two-spot, 14% at small forward, 68% at power forward, and 2% at center. This allows for both of them to switch, a lot, and give the Bulls different looks defensively which has always been an underrated strategy in making life difficult for offensive players.
Overall, Chicago has to be disciplined in their offensive approach, and not get caught up in lazy passes or underestimating Milwaukee's versatility. Even Michael Carter-Williams is long enough to cause some problems when he's not busy air-balling jumpers and turning the ball over.
(Shots fired? Well, not quite. A little though.)
There is however another way to beat the Bucks, and that entails going back to the basics. Well, Thibodeau basics. The Bucks ranked 26th offensively this season, so the strategy that favor the odds here, would be for some old-school bully basketball that has Milwaukee scoring in the mid-70's. Chicago are still amongst the best in the business in disallowing three's, and allows the second-most two-point shot attempts in the league, to which the Bucks rank 16th in effectivity.
Ah, the playoffs. Let the chess game begin!