This Billy Donovan gaffe in Game 4 vs Bucks sealed Bulls’ fate

Billy Donovan, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
Billy Donovan, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

The Milwaukee Bucks took a deciding 3-1 lead over the Chicago Bulls in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round.

The Bulls entered Games 3 and 4 knowing that the Bucks were without their second-leading scorer in Khris Middleton after stealing home-court advantage in Game 2. The Bucks, however, found scoring in their role players, with both Grayson Allen and Bobby Portis having impactful games at the United Center.

The Bucks jumped out on Chicago in Game 3, leaving little room for hope. Game 4 was different. The game was close throughout the first quarter, and the Bulls found consistent scoring in Zach LaVine.

LaVine scored half of his points in the first quarter alone. When a guy starts off like that, usually teams will try to continue feeding the hot hand. That wasn’t the case. Instead…

Billy Donovan’s Game 4 coaching gaffe screwed the Bulls

Billy Donovan decided to go to the bench, putting Coby White into the game for Alex Caruso. White became the guard initiating the offense, freezing LaVine out. The first three minutes of White’s first quarter were marked with three consecutive turnovers that turned into Bucks baskets … followed by three missed baskets. LaVine only got two shot attempts in that stretch, with both coming at the end of the shot clock on bail-out passes.

OK, so at that point Caruso has to come back in, right? Or at least, put the ball in LaVine’s hands, right?

Wrong and … wrong.

Donovan took LaVine out and kept White on the floor to start the second quarter. He did, however, sub in DeMar DeRozan, who wasn’t having the best of games. DeRozan and White were unable to get anything going, allowing the Bucks to go on another small run.

Donovan finally yanked White once he gave up another Allen jump shot, but by then the damage was done. Allen had gotten into a rhythm, LaVine was completely thrown off of his, and the Bucks took full control of the game and perhaps the series.

The Bulls had a very small margin for error and exceeded that margin through poor substitution patterns and adjustments. In the playoffs. When runs and momentum are exactly what contributes to victories.

It’s easy to jump on White for not playing well, but he shouldn’t have been out there that long. A timeout should have been called to get him out and give LaVine a clean look. That’s the head coach’s job.

Donovan needs to recognize these kinds of things faster because the Bulls are running out of time.

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