MILWAUKEE – DeMar DeRozan knows Jrue Holiday all too well.
The Bulls veteran knows the way Holiday likes to defend him, knows his tendencies, and has seen every move the Milwaukee point guard has in his arsenal.
DeRozan should. He’s been witness to it since both of them were 11 year olds making a name for themselves in the Los Angeles area.
“Every time we played against each other it was always memorable,” DeRozan said on Wednesday. “In high school we played with each other multiple times in tournaments. Jrue was always one of my favorite players to compete against, and obviously we played against each other in college, so it goes way back to when we were 11 and 12 for sure.”
Holiday went to Campbell Hall High School and then UCLA, while DeRozan was Compton’s finest, playing for Compton High School and then signing with UCLA’s backyard rival at USC.
And even after all these years, all the matchups on the same team or opposite sides, Holiday still has the ability to make life uncomfortable for not only DeRozan, but whoever he has to guard.
“Some people are just gifted to have awareness, quickness, feel, anticipation,” DeRozan said. “All the things he shows now he’s had that. He’s just one of those players that’s gifted to do the thing he does defensively.
“AAU basketball, through high school, I knew his family, he knew my family, so we go way back to when we were kids. He doesn’t talk much. He just goes out there and does whatever he needs to in order to compete. That’s just who he is.”
So is that why DeRozan was a dismal 6-for-25 in the Game 1 loss?
Not necessarily. Yes, Holiday did match up with DeRozan a good amount, but so did Wesley Matthews and even a bit of Khris Middleton.
That’s what makes this series difficult for both DeRozan and Zach LaVine. Holiday might be the stopper of the group, and they can throw him on either Bulls scorer, but Matthews is also an irritant on the defensive end.
According to DeRozan, the key for the rest of the series will be matching that defensive intensity that Holiday & Co. bring or expect to plan an early vacation.
“It’s one of those times where you’ve got to go through it to kind of feel and understand what it’s really like,” DeRozan said. “Now you have a better idea of how to approach it [after Game 1] and dig even deeper physically and mentally.”
Lonzo Ball was still trying to help his teammates out as much as he could as an injured bystander, but the point guard was still dealing with discomfort in the left knee, according to coach Billy Donovan.
Ball was ruled out for the rest of the season earlier this month, and now the questions are how much longer will the bone bruise be an issue before the team can start getting him ready for an offseason training program?
“The biggest thing they have to deal with is how to get away from the pain,” Donovan said. “That’s the thing they’re trying to do, to get rid of the discomfort. I’m not sure how long that takes. There has been a plan laid out as far as time here [in Chicago], time in [Los Angeles], how do we manage the situation and get him back to being healthy and feeling good?
“If it gets to a place where he’s still having discomfort after a longer period of time, I don’t know what the next step would be.”