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Bulls at Bucks Preview
Taylor Bechtold, STATS Writer
4/24/2015
(AP) -- Derrick Rose isn't worried about whether he'll ever get back to his MVP form, but admits he's still searching for his rhythm following his latest knee surgery.


The Chicago Bulls are likely to ride their backcourt deep into the postseason if he happens to find it.

Coming off his first 30-point playoff effort in five years, Rose - along with the red-hot Jimmy Butler - will try lead the visiting Bulls to their first playoff sweep since 2007 on Saturday night against the Milwaukee Bucks.


After playing only the final five regular-season games after missing 21 following a minor knee operation, Rose had a 23-point performance in the series opener before struggling with 14 points on 4-of-14 shooting in Game 2.

The star point guard then put up his most confident effort in eight games back from surgery in Thursday's 113-106 double-overtime victory. He finished with 34 points and hit 5 of 9 from 3-point range in 48 minutes.

Rose hadn't scored 30 in a postseason contest since May 10 of his 2010-11 MVP season against Atlanta.

"That theory of being all the way back, I can't think about that," he told the team's official website. "Every game is going to be different. All I'm doing is preparing myself for every game. Going out there and having confidence, believing in myself and believing in my craft to go out there and compete; it's the playoffs. You've got to love it."

Chicago's backcourt has been a handful for the Bucks, who led by as many as 18 in Game 3 but now face a daunting uphill climb as they try to snap a nine-game playoff skid. No NBA team has come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a series.

"You can only have so many moral victories," Bucks veteran Jared Dudley said. "So for us it's prepare with the mindset we're gonna battle and try to send it back to Chicago and play from there."

While Rose has had at least seven assists in each game of the series, Butler has had at least 24 points in all three. The All-Star guard had never scored that many in any of his previous 20 playoff games.

Butler scored 24 in 53 minutes Thursday and got the second overtime started with a steal and dunk that began a game-deciding 12-0 run, which also included two baskets from Rose.

The Bulls, however, are hoping to cut down on their mistakes as they go after their first sweep since beating defending champion Miami in the first round of the 2007 playoffs. They're averaging 17.3 turnovers after committing 18 in Game 3. Milwaukee led the league in forcing turnovers during the regular season at 17.4.

"I don't think (the Bucks) want to go home, to have their season end," said Butler, averaging 26.7 points in the series. "If we play the way we are supposed to play we have a real great shot at winning. But they are a great team; they guard, they rebound and are athletic enough to get a lot of steals and deflections. If we cut our turnovers down like we've been saying, why can't we win on Saturday?"

Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo will try to build on his breakout Game 3, when he finished with 25 points and 12 rebounds. Michael Carter-Williams had 19 points and nine assists, while Khris Middleton scored 18.

Middleton is averaging a team-high 19.3 points despite shooting 38.9 percent. Carter-Williams (39.1) and Antetokounmpo (34.8) also have been held under 40.0 percent. The Bucks have shot 39.1 percent from the field and 14 of 52 (26.9 percent) from 3-point range in the series.

Chicago's Nikola Mirotic was unable to run in Friday's practice and may sit out again due to a strained quadriceps and bruised knee suffered in Game 2. Coach Tom Thibodeau said he's unsure if the rookie forward will be available, though Kirk Hinrich may be ready for an increased workload after playing six minutes in his return from a two-week absence Thursday.

•The Bulls beat the Bucks, 113-106, in double-overtime in Game 3 and have now won each of their last four playoff games that have gone to at least double-overtime.

•The Bulls have recorded a 7-0 series record when leading a series 3-0 all-time, while the Bucks have an 0-6 series record when trailing 3-0.

•The Bucks have allowed the Bulls to grab 50 rebounds in each game this series, becoming the first team since the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2011 Western Conference Semifinals versus the Oklahoma City Thunder to allow its opponent to grab 50 or more rebounds in three consecutive playoff games in a single series.

•John Henson had 15 points and 14 rebounds off the bench in Game 3, becoming the first Bucks player to post those numbers or better in a playoff game since Alton Lister in Game 3 of the 1986 Conference Finals against the Celtics (19 points and 14 rebounds off the bench).

•Joakim Noah had 12 rebounds in Game 3 and is now averaging 11.2 rebounds per playoff game for the Bulls over his career. The only player to post a higher postseason rebounds-per-game average as a member of the Bulls (minimum 20 games) is Dennis Rodman (11.3).

•Derrick Rose scored 34 points in Game 3, his most in a playoff game since scoring 34 points at Atlanta in Game 4 of the 2011 Conference Semifinals. Rose has totaled nine 30-point games in the playoffs over his career, the third most by a Bulls player behind Bob Love (13) and Michael Jordan (109).


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