Bulls' Patrick Williams continues education with Giannis assignment

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Williams continues education with Greek (Freak) lessons originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Chicago Bulls are one loss away from elimination from a first-round playoff series few expected them to win against the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks.

This season didn’t begin with championship expectations, but it did start with developmental goals.

And Patrick Williams posting a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds in Sunday’s blowout Game 4 loss is as much a part of that experience as the second-year forward missing all nine shots in Friday’s blowout Game 3 loss.

“It’s been a lot obviously,” Williams said, when asked what he’s taking away from his first postseason experience. “Every game is different. Every possession, every quarter has a life of its own. Just kinda embracing it all---the atmosphere, the game, the energy, the physicality.

“And just understanding---I think DeMar (DeRozan) said it to me---it’s hard. We just got to embrace how hard it is. You don’t want it to be easy. It’s difficult to win in the playoffs. It’s difficult getting to the playoffs. It’s been fun for me just having this experience and understanding every play matters, every decision matters.”

Particularly following a season of lost on-the-court development following surgery to repair torn ligaments in his wrist.

Williams has opined that playing only 17 regular-season games didn’t represent a completely lost season because of his off-the-court film and scouting work. That process, he said, has continued in the playoffs with film study with Alex Caruso and the coaching staff and the forward taking in as many other playoff games on TV as possible.

Still, there’s no substitute for actually guarding Giannis Antetokounmpo, a daunting assignment intensified by the cauldron that is playoff basketball.

“Giannis is such a big, strong, skilled player. For Patrick, he has to learn the body positioning, trying to cut off angles and alleys where he can’t get all the way to the rim. A lot of times, it’s going to be putting his body into plays,” coach Billy Donovan said. “For most of Patrick’s career, he was a guy who could always just rely on his athleticism. With a guy like Giannis, you’re not really always going to be able to rely on your athleticism. You gotta rely on your positioning a lot. And I think that’s something he can take a lot from going against him.”

Williams said his forgettable 0-for-9 showing in Game 3 “hurt for sure” but that he took solace from teammates and coaches encouraging him to stay aggressive and take the right shots. He called this playoff experience “eye opening” because of the difference in pace and intensity from the regular season.

Unsurprisingly, his strong individual showing didn’t make him stray from his well-worn, team-first approach. Five of his 20 points and five of his 10 rebounds came in the fourth quarter, when the game was well decided.

It’s still an impressive stat line to most everyone but Williams.

“Um . . . I want to win,” Williams said when asked if his performance is a glimpse of his potential. “So whatever it takes to win, that’s who I’ll be.”

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