DeMar DeRozan has been dubbed as a playoff choker throughout his career. He's considered a stellar regular season performer but fails to translate the same impact when it matters most.
According to Statemuse, DeRozan has the lowest career plus-minus in playoffs history (-313), which is why many still doubt him today.
Sadly, the forward tarnished his reputation even more in his first playoff game as a Chicago Bull. DeRozan scored an underwhelming 18 points in 43 minutes, but he also shot just 6-25 from the field, 2-3 from three-point range, and only averaged 24.0 percent on offense.
DeRozan is now 24-35 in the NBA playoffs and is 2-9 in game 1's. That's a tough debut for someone who's reinvented his career this season.
"It's nothing they're doing defensively. Most of the shots I took were wide open. No way in hell I shoot 6-of-25 again," DeRozan said post-game after suffering a 93-86 defeat to the defending champions, Milwaukee Bucks.
What exactly went wrong?
The Bucks went up for as many as 16 points in the second quarter, but the Bulls were able to climb back in the game. Led by Nikola Vučević's 24 points, Chicago was able to trim the lead to five but failed to capitalize down the stretch when it mattered most.
DeRozan couldn't buy a bucket to save his life and was scoreless in the fourth quarter until the 2:11 mark. The forward was just 1-for-7 in the final quarter and only took two free throws in the second half.
"I don't know what the hell was going on. Probably a week off. It just wasn't me. Every shot felt good. I guarantee you me, Vooch and Zach [Lavin] aren't going to miss that many next games," DeRozan said.
The Bulls' inability to take over in the fourth quarter was a shocker because, in the regular season, they were ranked fourth in the league in clutch time percentage. DeRozan was third in the league in points per game during clutch time. But this was nowhere to be found in their first playoff game against the Bucks.
DeRozan might not have acknowledged it, but the Bucks' defensive game-plan was bold and impressive. The Bucks sacrificed defending the three-point line and instead focused their defensive attention on the paint. Sadly for the Bulls, they couldn't capitalize from downtown, where they shot just 18.9% on 7-37 shooting. Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez made life hell for the Bulls inside the paint.
All eyes are now on DeRozan
After a forgettable game one performance, all eyes will be on DeRozan for game two. It'll be interesting to see how he bounces back after a lackluster game and prove that game one was just, in his own words, "a poor shooting night."
The stats and eye test continue to indicate that DeRozan's not a reliable playoff performer, but can he finally put all these allegations to bed? There are no more excuses for DeRozan because, after all, regular-season performances don't define a player's legacy.