The Chicago Bulls are wary, even with a big lead in the NBA playoffs
The Bulls head into their game tonight in complete control of their series with the Milwaukee Bucks, needing just one more victory to advance to the next round.
What's the worst that could happen? Just ask the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Cavs completed a sweep of the Boston Celtics on Sunday but lost Kevin Love to an injury and may be without J.R. Smith when their second-round series begins after he was ejected for hitting Jae Crowder.
Even when series appear to be well in hand, things can go wrong. Tempers can flare at the wrong moment. An ankle can roll on a drive to the bucket. A desperate opponent can put up an unexpected fight.
The Bulls go back to Chicago up 3-1 for Game 5 against Milwaukee.
After taking the first three games of their series against the young Bucks, the Bulls dropped Game 4 on a buzzer-beater by Jerryd Bayless on Saturday that kept Milwaukee alive. It's possible the Bulls had one eye on a second-round matchup with LeBron James and the Cavs that appears inevitable, which may have led to some sloppy play.
Now Coach Tom Thibodeau is trying to bring the focus back to the now.
"Just worried about the next game," Thibodeau said Sunday. "That's it."
Derrick Rose's eight turnovers drew the bulk of the attention after Milwaukee's win, but Thibodeau was just as concerned with the 28 giveaways his team committed.
Thibodeau said the Bulls looked at all the turnovers and "obviously some were (Milwaukee's) defense," but some were due to Chicago's errors and decision-making.
"Usually, if you hold onto it too long, or you dance with the ball, or you're trying a risky pass, it's going to lead to problems," Thibodeau said. "Hit the first open man, be sound with the ball. When we did that, we got good shots."
Even with the ball-security issues, the Bulls had a chance to sweep the series. Forward Mike Dunleavy hasn't lost sight of the Bulls' strong position.
"Look, the reality is we didn't play very well, but we had the ball with 20 seconds left and a chance to win the game," Dunleavy said. "You turn it over 28 times and to be in that position, you're doing a lot of things right. We've just got to correct the things we're not doing right."
Bulls rookie forward Nikola Mirotic is listed as probable for the game with a strained left quad.