The 2021-22 NBA season didn’t go quite as hoped for the Chicago Bulls after they got off to a roaring start. The Bulls failed to maintain that high level of play, going from 39-21 to 46-36 to finish the season. In the process, they drew a tough matchup with the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks.


There is not a lot of public optimism for the Bulls. Milwaukee is the largest series favorite with FanDuel having them favored by -1100 with the Bulls listed as +700 underdogs. It will take an impressive effort from the Bulls to find a way to win the series.

If they are to have any hope, here are three reasons why they could shock the defending champs in the opening round.

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Why Bulls will shock Bucks in 2022 NBA Playoffs

DeMar DeRozan’s dominance

Few players have played basketball at a higher level than DeMar DeRozan in 2021-22. The mid-range assassin averaged 27.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.9 assists in his first season in Chicago. His impressive play raised the ceiling of this Bulls team by a great deal and earned DeRozan some whispers in the MVP conversation in the process.

There were many games in the regular season where DeRozan absolutely took over and refused to let the Bulls lose. No player in the NBA scored more points in the fourth quarter than DeRozan, who tallied 612 late-game points this season. His impressive shotmaking kept Chicago afloat for periods of time this season. It likely will take this type of effort from the Bulls star for the team to have a chance.

Bulls get back to early-season success

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Flashback to a few months ago and there likely would be a much different tune heading into this series. Chicago began the season by clicking on all cylinders. Jumping out to a 26-10 start, the Bulls’ new-additions of Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, and DeMar DeRozan meshed perfectly with established All-stars Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic.

Since this time, LaVine injured his left knee, Ball underwent knee surgery, Caruso broke his wrist, and Vucevic failed to establish his dominance. Despite once being a top-five offense, the Bulls slipped to below average. Their defense showed some impressive defensive flashes but fell way down by the end of the season thanks to the injuries to Ball and Caruso.

With a week off before this playoff matchup, the Bulls had a chance to take a step back and make some adjustments, along with getting a bit healthier. Ball will be unable to return, but there are still changes to be made that can help the team. Making use of the extra practice time to get the Bulls on the same page is necessary.

Bulls find their stroke again from 3-point range

One of the holes of this Bulls team is the limited amount of 3-point shooting. Chicago finished 30th in the league in 3-point attempts, though the 36.9% conversation rate ranked fourth. It was not their calling card throughout the season, but if the Bulls are to have a chance they must be more willing to let it fly. Ball is the sole player who finished over 40% from deep and he will not be playing, but six Bulls rotation players shot at least 35%. There must be some tactical adjustments to take more long-range shots and capitalize on their impressive shooting percentage if the Bulls hope to have a chance, with players like LaVine, Coby White, Patrick Williams, and Ayo Dosunmu playing a key role here.

While they do not attempt many 3-pointers, Chicago does do an excellent job of protecting against the line defensively. The Bulls allowed the second-fewest 3-point attempts of any team in the NBA on the season. They do an excellent job of rotating out to the perimeter and chasing shooters off the 3-point line. Preventing the Bucks from getting good looks from deep and winning the 3-point battle will go a long way toward helping the Bulls’ chances.


Looking back on the regular season, the Bucks went 4-0 against the Bulls and Chicago has not won a matchup against Giannis Antetokounmpo since 2017. The Bucks rested their stars in the final game of the regular season with the hopes the Celtics would climb to the second seed and allow Milwaukee to face off with Chicago. The Bucks got their wish, but this does not mean the Bulls cannot surprise them.

The Bulls must lean on the impressive play of DeMar DeRozan and be willing to mix in more 3-point shots if they hope to have a chance. While many believe the Bucks will have no trouble, don’t expect this Chicago team to go down without a fight.