Michael Carter-Williams, the much-maligned 2014 Rookie of the Year, just showed the rest of the NBA why the Bucks dealt for him at the trade deadline: He can be an absolute matchup nightmare when he gets it going.
MCW torched Derrick Rose and the Bulls in a 94-88 Game 5 victory, moving the series to 3-2 and back to Milwaukee. The Bucks have come back from the dead in this series after facing an 0-3 deficit, and their youth, length, and aggressiveness has led to their resurrection.
Rose, the 2011 MVP, looked more like a first-year player thanks to MCW’s brilliant play on Monday. Rose finished with 13 points, shooting 5-for-20 from the field, with just two assists to six turnovers. Carter-Williams disrupted nearly every set Rose tried to initiate with his 6’6 frame and 6’7.25 wingspan. MCW happily let Rose chuck up bad shots (0-for-7 on threes) while preventing the fast guard from consistently getting in the paint. Whenever Rose was lucky enough to get past MCW, John Henson or Giannis Antetokounmpo were there to clean up the mess. After numerous misses in a row, Rose clearly felt uncomfortable pushing the ball against Carter-Williams. Forcing Rose into being a slow-it-down, pass-first guard is never a good thing for the Bulls. MCW also terrorized Rose on the other end all night long.
MCW finished with a playoff career-high 22 points on 10-for-15 shooting to go along with nine assists, eight rebounds, three steals and a block. Carter-Williams used his underrated quickness to get past Rose with ease, and the youngster utilized his long arms to fend off defenders while heading towards the rim. MCW also finished numerous tough shots in the post over the outstretched arms of Rose. Rose tried to body up MCW and use his own length to disrupt the second-year player, but Carter-Williams was able to finish at will. In fairness to Rose, Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah and other Bulls players poorly helped throughout the game. Thanks to MCW, the Bucks are now legitimate threat in this series.
Chicago head coach Tom Thibodeau failed to make adjustments once Carter-Williams got it going. He chose to not double or trap MCW, or even switch other defenders onto him. Why not put Rose on Middleton or O.J. Mayo to give someone else a chance at stopping MCW? Thibs was also insistent on having Noah and Gasol on the floor at the same time, which is a spacing nightmare for the Bulls. Nikola Mirotic‘s injury and inability to create anything offensively in this series (1-for-6 in Game 5) has played a hand in that decision, but at some point Thibodeau will have to be more creative with his lineups. Jason Kidd and the Bucks have figured out the Bulls.
Milwaukee held Chicago to 34.4 percent shooting from the field on Monday while forcing 12 more turnovers in this series chock full of them. MCW’s high minute total (38 in Game 5, 34.0 in Games 1-3) has rendered Aaron Brooks useless in this series, as Brooks played just six minutes in Game 5. Brooks can’t defend MCW for even a second, so the pint-sized guard is forced to ride the bench whenever Jerryd Bayless is out of the game. This is unfortunate for the Bulls when Rose can’t hit a shot, which tends to happen whenever he has had only 0-1 days of rest. Rose doesn’t have the luxury of taking off plays in the postseason, especially when he’s battling MCW on both ends.
No team has ever come back from an 0-3 hole in NBA history, but the Bucks are sure as hell trying to change that. If Thibs chooses to not make major adjustments, which he has done throughout this series, the Bucks, alongside MCW, will make him and the Bulls pay.
Bayless gave Milwaukee a glimmer of hope after his Game 4 buzzer-beater. With his outstanding defense and timely shot-making in Game 5, MCW has now given the Bucks the momentum. This series just got real.