Bulls' Williams says key to guarding Giannis is 'don't be scared'

  • Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo looks to pass around Chicago Bulls' Patrick Williams during the first half of Game 2 of their an NBA playoff basketball game Wednesday, April 20, 2022, in Milwaukee.

    Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo looks to pass around Chicago Bulls' Patrick Williams during the first half of Game 2 of their an NBA playoff basketball game Wednesday, April 20, 2022, in Milwaukee. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 4/21/2022 12:40 AM

MILWAUKEE -- The Bulls carried a double-digit lead most of the night before holding on for a 114-110 win in Game 2 of their playoff series at Milwaukee on Wednesday.

Nikola Vucevic had 24 points and 13 rebounds for the Bulls, Zach LaVine added 20 points. Caruso with 10 assists and Patrick Williams with 9 rebounds were key contributors.

 

Earlier in the day, Williams talked about the task of trying to defend two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. That's a challenge for anyone, let alone a 20-year-old forward who missed 65 games this season due to a left wrist injury.

"It's the same way you get ready for anybody else," Williams said after the morning shootaround. "First of all, don't be scared. I feel like a lot of people in this league are scared or nervous to guard guys like that.

"Obviously, he's good. He's a two-time MVP. But he puts his pants on the same way I do. Just knowing he is good, but he's not God."

Williams is young, but he's also the only Bulls player with physical skills that can begin to match Antetokounmpo when it comes to size and speed. So he's in the starting lineup with that specific defensive goal in mind, getting help from shorter teammates Caruso and Javonte Green.

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"For sure he's freakishly athletic, freakishly long," Williams said. "So when you get on him, if you don't have the help of your teammates, you're pretty much done for. So I think we've done a great job of just guarding him with five guys on the court. Everybody's kind of locked into the game plan and everybody's kind of shifting for me, shifting for whoever's guarding him. I think we did a pretty good job.

"It's tough, but so is being in the NBA, so is being in the playoffs, so is getting to the playoffs. It's tough, but our job is tough. This is a job for the best athletes in the world, so it's tough but I think it's definitely doable."

Some observers would say the low-scoring Game 1 was poorly played. But the Bulls were proud of their defensive effort in the 93-86 loss, holding Milwaukee to its lowest point total since December.

"For sure one of our best defensive game of the year," DeRozan said after shootaround. "Granted, everybody wants to shoot better, but you can't fully control that. But we controlled our effort on the defensive end and that's one thing you could definitely be proud of and we've got to understand to do it again in Game 2 even at a higher level."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Bulls used 10 players Sunday and have a pretty even mix of playoff veterans and newcomers. DeRozan, Caruso, Derrick Jones Jr. and Tristan Thompson have gone deep in the playoffs. Williams, Zach LaVine, Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu made their postseason debuts in Game 1.

Williams described the uptick in intensity compared to the regular season.

"The intensity is definitely different," he said. "It just feels like a game that matters. We've had games throughout the season where two or three minutes left in the fourth quarter, the game's tied up -- now it's like the whole 48 minutes goes like that."

@McGrawDHSports

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