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The Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls tipped off their highly anticipated second round matchup Monday night. The shorthanded Cavs, who were playing without both J.R. Smith and Kevin Love, fell to the Bulls at home 99-92.
With Love and J.R. out for Game 1, the Cavs were forced to start Mike Miller and Iman Shumpert. Right out of the gates, the Cavs had a sloppy start, shooting just (2-9) and falling behind 18-5. For the first quarter, Shumpert didn’t play his usual tight D and Mike Dunleavy made him pay, dropping 13 points in the first quarter on 5/5 shooting with 3 from downtown. Iman wasn’t as hot, knocking down just 2 of his 7 first quarter shots and only going 1 of 4 from beyond the arc.
The second quarter was a different story as the Cavs brought the game back within 5, going into the half down 49-44. Kyrie went off scoring 10 straight and dropping a total of 14 in the second quarter. LeBron added 8 in the quarter. D Rose is proving himself to be hard to handle, shooting 7 of 14 and scoring 16 in the first half.
The Cavs came back from the third quarter deficit to tie the game at 53, but that was quickly forgotten as Chicago ran off 15 straight points. Despite a 15-0 run, the Cleveland were able to hold on in the third quarter. A few dunks by Mozgov and then back to back threes from Delly and Shump kept the Cavs in the game and they went into the fourth down by 11. The big men struggled in the third, giving up 13 points to Pau Gasol as he was automatic from less than 15 feet out.
Going into the fourth, Coach Blatt said that the Cavs need to push the pace and find alternatives to scoring as well as get more stops. While the Cavs outscored the Bulls 22-18, the quarter went back and forth, but in the end Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler scored some tough baskets for the Bulls while Cleveland struggled to score in those iso-ball offense. LeBron James had two key turnovers in the midst of the Cavalier run. Chicago came out with the win 99-92.
Despite the loss, here’s an interesting stat by ESPN:
Guys need to step up: With Love and J.R. out, the Cavs knew they needed to perform. Big games from Kyrie and LeBron weren’t enough today, especially with LeBron committing 6 turnovers. The bench wasn’t hot enough, forcing the starting lineup to play some hefty minutes. With J.R. and Love accounting for nearly 20% of points and 30% of threes for the Cavs this season, the remaining players need to learn how to score with alternate lineups.
Handle the stars: This goes along with players stepping up. Derrick Rose ended up with 25 points, Gasol had 21, and Jimmy Butler walked away with 20. Whether its mismatches or dealing with different lineups and more bench minutes, the Cavs need to step up their D for the rest of the series.
Find alternative ways to score: The Cavs shot 34-48 (42.5%), but from beyond the arc they were a disappointing 7-26 (28%). J.R. and Love made huge contributions to the Cav’s three point game and the Cavs need to figure out how to score without them in the lineup. Kyrie came up big with 30 points, LeBron dropped 19, and Shump Daddy had a nice 22, but other guys need to step up and score as well.
Prevent Open Shots: The Bulls shot 80 shots tonight and made 40, including 10 of 18 from downtown. The Cavs D didn’t hold up and they ended up giving too many open shots, most of which were knocked down easily. Gasol ended up with 21 on 10-16 shooting, most of which were open free throw jumpers. Butler also went 7 for 16 and ended with 20 points. The D need to be just a tad closer to prevent the open jumpers from the Bulls and therefore knock down their shooting percentage.
Click “Next” below for all of today’s top plays and highlights!
Kyrie Irving drives by Derrick Rose baseline, goes up and then under Pau Gasol for the reverse lay up.
Iman Shumpert fakes going towards the middle, drives baseline past Kirk Hinrich, and throws it down with one hand.
Kyrie Irving scores 10 straight points for the Cavs as Cleveland comes back from a 13 point deficit, including this beautiful euro-step around Joakim Noah on the fast-break for the bucket.
Kyrie Irving crosses over Jimmy Butler to get free, then dribbles around Pau Gasol towards the left side, but throws the reverse up on the right side and scores!