The Milwaukee Bucks kept their season alive with a 94-88 road win over the Chicago Bulls Monday night, thanks in large part to former Syracuse basketball star point guard Michael Carter-Williams. MCW finished with 22 points (10-15 shooting), 8 rebounds, 9 assists, 1 steal and 3 blocks to stave off elimination.
This is the first playoff appearance of Carter-Williams' young NBA career, and he is trying to leave his mark.
The Bucks let the Bulls know right from the start that they were in town with every intention of pulling off the upset victory. They controlled tempo and held the lead for most of the night.
In the second half, the Bucks were able to extend the lead they held at intermission. But every time they would try to distance themselves from the favored Bulls, Chicago would make a run. That's when Carter-Williams was at his best.
After a nine point Milwaukee lead was quickly cut to four, Carter-Williams found a cutting Khris Middleton for an easy layup. Holding a six point lead at the start of the fourth quarter, Carter-Williams started things off with a jumper to push the advantage to eight. After Chicago answered, he drove and sank another layup.
The Bulls cut the lead to just three just over a minute later, forcing a Bucks' timeout.
The former Syracuse star stepped up once again with a layup and assist on two of their next three possessions, extending Milwaukee's lead to nine.
But the Bulls would not go away, trying to eliminate the young Bucks. They cut the lead to three once again with five minutes to play. Carter-Williams answered again with a floater in the lane. The Bucks controlled the final minutes of play and walked out of Chicago with a series extending win.
Carter-Williams was not only clutch in the second half, but performed well all game. He ran the Milwaukee offense to perfect, found open teammates, shot the ball efficiently, rebounded and played strong defense on Derrick Rose, holding the Bulls star to just 5-20 shooting including 0-7 from beyond the arc. Rose was also forced into six turnovers.
It is this type of all around game and leadership in crunch time that had scouts excited about his potential when he left Syracuse and turned to the professional ranks.
Carter-Williams now has two playoff wins under his belt, one at home and Monday night's on the road. Milwaukee was down three games to none in the series, but has a chance to force a game seven with a win at home on Thursday.