After pulling out all the needed stops in Game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead, Cleveland looked poised to finish the job in Game 6 tonight. The Cavaliers defeated the Bulls 94-73 on a night where many thought Chicago would play well considering the series was on the line. The Bulls did not live up to the expectations as reflected in the final score and their shooting percentage as a team, which for the game was 37.5 percent. They also shot a horrendous 20 percent from the three-point line compared to the Cavaliers 44.4 percent. Unlike Chicago, Cleveland’s stars were aligned tonight:
The Cavaliers lost Kyrie Irving early in the second quarter due to injury, but his absence did not hinder the Cavaliers success one bit. In fact, after Irving exited the game, Cleveland proceeded to go on a 23-9 run and was up 58-44 at halftime. Matthew Dellavedova stepped in for Irving and played exceptionally well. In 34 minutes of play, he scored 19 points shooting 63 percent from the field while also making 50 percent of his three point attempts. Ever since the Kevin Love injury, it has been “Next man up” for the Cavaliers and Dellavedova stepped up big time for them tonight.
After an extremely efficient performance in Game 5, LeBron James cooled off tonight. However, despite his shooting woes, James still managed to have an impact on the game as he almost finished with a triple-double. He ended the night with 15 points, nine rebounds, and 11 assists. The Cavaliers also got strong performances from starters Tristan Thompson and Iman Shumpert as they both scored 13 points. Moreover, James Jones and J.R. Smith provided a much needed spark off the bench for the Cavaliers as they combined for 21 points on 50 percent shooting.
As for the Bulls, their lone bright spot was Jimmy Butler, who led all scorers with 20 points. It did not get much better for the Bulls as the Cavaliers defense completely shut them down. Derrick Rose did not have much of an impact as he scored 14 points and only had six assists as well. Pau Gasol returned after missing two straight games with a hamstring injury, but it was to no avail. His impact on the game was very minimized as he only had eight points and five rebounds. Additionally, the Bulls got no help from their bench as their main guys only had 13 points. A factor that deterred the Bulls from doing any damage in the paint was Taj Gibson’s early foul trouble and Pau Gasol’s imperfect hamstring.
Cleveland makes their return to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2009. Additionally, James will be making his fifth straight Conference Finals appearance. Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals will be next Wednesday and Cleveland will face the winner of the Atlanta-Washington series. Atlanta currently leads that series 3-2 with Game 6 being played tomorrow night in Washington.