DeMar DeRozan has a historical past of developing brief within the NBA Playoffs. DeRozan led the Toronto Raptors to 50+ wins in every of his final three years with the franchise earlier than routinely getting smoked by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers within the postseason. DeRozan was finally traded to the San Antonio Spurs because the headliner in a bundle for Kawhi Leonard, who instantly led the Raptors to their first ever NBA championship.
Now at age-32, DeRozan has put collectively probably the most prolific season of his profession with the Chicago Bulls, one which noticed him common a career-high 28 factors per recreation whereas placing his title within the MVP dialog. The common season success nonetheless didn’t silence doubters about his playoff failures, and his Sport 1 efficiency in opposition to the Milwaukee Bucks within the first spherical solely gave his critics extra ammunition.
DeRozan shot solely 6-of-25 from the sphere in Chicago’s Sport 1 loss in what was one in all his worst efforts of the 12 months. After the sport, DeRozan advised reporters there was “no means in hell” he was going to shoot 6-of-25 once more.
NBA followers instantly received off jokes at DeRozan’s expense after listening to the quote. DeRozan had his fair proportion of poor capturing nights within the playoffs throughout his time with the Raptors, and he gave the impression to be tempting the basketball gods by saying it wasn’t going to occur once more. With two of the sport’s finest defenders in Jrue Vacation and Giannis Antetokounmpo staring him down on each possession, it felt like a daring declare to make.
The Bulls have been once more a double-digit underdog because the sequence returned to Milwaukee for Sport 2. DeRozan missed his first soar shot of the sport, after which missed his subsequent two jumpers as properly. A much less assured participant may need been shaken by such a begin, however not DeRozan. Finally, DeRozan discovered his means into some simple buckets, and by halftime the Bulls led by 63-49 behind 12 factors from DeMar.
Milwaukee made a change within the second half with out injured large man Bobby Portis, transferring Antetokounmpo to the 5 and altering his defensive task so he may swap any display screen on DeRozan. The Bucks chipped away on the lead, and finally the sport got here all the way down to a person matchup between the groups’ two largest stars: the two-time MVP in Giannis vs. the veteran wing with a historical past of playoff failure.
All DeRozan did was go 8-of-9 from the sphere when guarded by Giannis, in keeping with NBA.com’s matchup information. The one time Antetokounmpo stopped him was on a ferocious block close to the basket. In any other case, DeRozan was calmly draining jumper after jumper over Giannis’ outstretched arm.
Right here’s a video of each matchup between DeRozan and Antetokounmpo from Sport 2.
There are a number of cases of Antetokounmpo taking part in in a deep drop like Brook Lopez, which performed completely into DeRozan’s midrange heavy assault. When Giannis did get to the extent of the display screen defensively, he appeared a step gradual to contest, presumably as a result of he didn’t wish to foul DeRozan on his jumpers like so many different suckers this season.
Giannis is my choose for the perfect defender alive, however DeRozan saved him off-balance by main the dance within the halfcourt. Giannis didn’t know which means DeRozan was going, and he was frightened about getting received on his signature pump faux. With the sport on the road and the Bulls’ up three within the closing seconds, DeRozan received the ball after two offensive rebounds, drove to the lane, and completed by means of contact from Antetokounmpo to seal the win.
DeRozan ended the night time with 41 factors on 16-of-31 capturing. He was proper: there was no means in hell he was capturing 6-of-25 once more.
This was nothing new for DeRozan this 12 months. He took 71 p.c of his makes an attempt from midrange — with 41 p.c of them coming from ‘lengthy midrange’ — in keeping with Cleansing the Glass, which led all gamers. He made 49 p.c of his midrange photographs — and 46 p.c of his ‘lengthy midrange’ photographs — two numbers which can be extremely spectacular in comparison with league-wide averages.
This was the DeRozan that Bulls followers watched all season — however not the identical participant NBA followers are used to seeing come up brief within the playoffs. DeRozan is just a extra assured offensive participant at age-32, figuring out his precise spots on the ground and proudly owning a deep bag of methods to get defenders feeling uncomfortable. His recreation is old-school in a late-’90s type of means: he’s taking the kind of lengthy midrange photographs the Bucks wish to give up, however he makes them extra effectively than simply about anybody.
DeRozan known as his shot and got here by means of for the Bulls in Sport 2. With Middleton now probably set to overlook time after spraining his MCL within the second half, the Bulls would possibly actually have a shot to make this sequence attention-grabbing now. If it occurs, it would primarily be as a result of DeRozan is able to shine on the largest stage potential.