How different would Bulls-Bucks series be if Lonzo Ball wasn’t injured?

Lonzo Ball, Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Lonzo Ball, Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

The Chicago Bulls are facing a tough challenge in their first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks. While the Bulls had a day of momentum in the series, the Bucks Game 3 massacre at the United Center leaves fans wondering if they team really has a shot in the series.

The Bulls’ play also leaves fans wondering just how different would the series be if Lonzo Ball was available for Chicago.

It isn’t debatable that the Bulls are better with Ball in the lineup. He averaged 13 points, five rebounds and five assists before his injury and was the defensive stopper in the starting lineup. The Bulls were 27-12 before his knee injury and failed find their footing after he went down, finishing the regular season 19-22 without him. Their defensive efficiency has taken the biggest hit during his absence, with its rating going from 107 to 114.3.

Even NBA legend Magic Johnson went on national television to praise him as one of the best floor generals in the entire NBA.

So what would Lonzo Ball have done in the Bulls-Bucks series?

Ball would’ve been the primary defender on either Jrue Holiday or Khris Middleton, giving Alex Caruso and Patrick Williams stretches where they can focus more on offense instead being the only primary defenders.

The key to stopping the Bucks is limiting Giannis Antetokounmpo and forcing the other two stars to beat you, which is something the Bulls are capable of.

With Middleton out for the rest of the series, stopping Holiday is now the primary focus after game-planning for Antetokounmpo.

In Game 1, Holiday’s impact on both sides of the ball changed the entire game. He held all of the Bulls’ stars to poor shooting percentages when he was the primary defender on them, and he found open shooters in crunch time with his passes. Ball would’ve been able to pressure him at least in the quarter court, if not full court. In doing so, Holiday would’ve been forced to exert more energy throughout the game.

In Game 2, his output wasn’t as explosive offensively, but he was a monster on defense, forcing LaVine into tough shots the entire night. The difference in his offensive output with Middleton out for the fourth quarter was the game-changer

Chicago orchestrated a disappearing act in Game 3, but Holiday and the rest of the Bucks looked remarkable. The Bulls’ offense was stagnant and their defense was asleep.

Ball being available would’ve helped tremendously in all three games. In crunch time of Game 1 and Game 2, Holiday wouldn’t have been as fresh with Ball guarding him, which is something that played a role in the Bulls’ stars lack of fourth quarter production.

On offense, the Bulls have struggled getting everyone involved since he’s been out. Their star guards have been able to get theirs, but the role guys are often just standing around waiting for something to happen. That’s not a winning formula, as reflected in their record without Ball.

Zo is also able to find the stars in their sweet spot instead of them having to work off the dribble, and that helps the flow of the offense immeasurably.

Having Ball in the lineup wouldn’t have made the Bulls favorites in this matchup. The Bucks are the defending champs and have a top superstar on their team. But Ball would’ve given the Bulls a very strong shot at pulling off the upset based on what we’ve seen so far.

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