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The Cleveland Cavaliers gave their longtime backup power forward Tristan Thompson his first career playoff start tonight. Both he and Shumpert sparked the Cavs tonight with their combined specialties: rebounding, defense, and three-point shooting.
The Cavs got off to a hot start, forcing four turnovers in the first four minutes and going up 21-6 early in the first. The Cavs kept pushing and ended the first quarter up 38-18. LeBron and Shump went off, going for 14 and 10 points respectively. The big key to the first was scoring 13 points off of 7 turnovers. The Cavs also shot 13-20 (65%) while holding the Bulls to 6 of 18 shooting (33.3%). The Cavs also drilled 5-of-6 from downtown, with three three-pointers from Iman Shumpert.
The Cavs kept it rolling in the second, giving the starters some rest and letting the bench pick up some minutes. Delly came into the game and hit some big shots leading to eight first-half points and the Cavs went into the half up 64-45. Shump got hot early, shooting 4-of-5 from beyond the arc. LeBron added 22 first half points on 9-of-18 shooting (50%). The Cavs ended up with 20 points off of 10 Chicago turnovers, while limiting themselves to just three turnovers.
The second half wasn’t much different. Despite a 14-0 run by the Bulls in the third, the Cavs were able to hold on to their massive lead. Shump was fouled hard and left the game to get checked out. Diagnosed with a groin strain, Shump later came back in the fourth to finish the game. The Cavs held the gas down and ended up having a comfortable enough lead to get their starters some well needed rest. The Bulls couldn’t keep up, and the Cavs kept pouring it on as the Cavs won 106-91.
Good: Tristan had 6 o-reb while CHI had 12 as a team. Better: JJ shot 5-for-9 from 3. Best: Cavs led by 10-plus for last 42:09
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) May 7, 2015
Get ahead early: The Cavs got off to an electric start, ending the quarter up 20, 38-18. The Cavs didn’t look back as they never trailed the Bulls. Despite some late pushes by the Bulls, the Cavs held a steady lead that started from the tip.
Take away open shots: Compared to game 1, the Cavs completely shut down Pau Gasol’s and Jimmy Butler’s open shots. Pau ended up with 11 points on 3/8 shooting, while Butler went 5/14 and ended with 18 points. D Rose didn’t shoot much better, going 6/20 and ending with 14 points.
LeBron got aggressive: The King wore his crown tonight, and his aggressiveness showed. He led the team with 33 points off of 13 for 29 shooting. Add that to 5 assists and 8 boards and you can easily why see why he was an MVP candidate. He stepped up tonight after “feeling out” the Bulls in the first game. The Bulls had to force extra D on the King, which led to a lot of assists and open shots.
Everyone else stepped up: Those open shots led to a lot of action from the Cavs. Kyrie ended up with 21 points on 5/9 shooting. Iman Shumpert was hot before being fouled and straining his groin in the third quarter. Shump came back, however, and continued to contribute to the Cavs push. Tristan Thompson got his first playoff start and hustled HARD. The big man ended up with 12 board, half of which were offensive. Delly also got some heavy minutes off the bench and contributed with some clutch shots to keep the Cavs rolling.
With Thompson getting the start, as well as Kendrick Perkins getting some minutes off the bench, Mozgov didn’t shine as much as I thought he would. He only ended up playing 18 minutes, with Thompson getting the bulk with 35 minutes. It’ll be interesting to see how Blatt decides to utilize the big men in Game 3. With his dominating performance tonight, it would be hard to not give him the start, even with J.R. back in the lineup.
Speaking of J.R. being back in the lineup, I’d expect the 3 point production to bump up a bit. Sump and James Jones had big nights, going 4 of 7 and 5 of 9 from beyond the arc. Overall the Cavs went 12 of 26 from 3, and I think with the addition of J.R. this could be improved.
I also expect to see more energy. LeBron, Kyrie, and Shumpert all played 40+ minutes in Game 1, combining for 128 total minutes compared to just 97 minutes tonight. With those extra minutes of rest, as well as some active bench roles, the Cavs all got some action tonight. While the rustiness may have been due to the long break between the playoff series, the Cavs should be back in gear and energized to take on the Bulls in Chicago on Friday night, especially with more.
Click “Next” below for all of today’s top plays and highlights!
LeBron James brings out his best Magic Johnson as he posts up Jimmy Butler, and drives down the middle, hooking it up with the soft touch!
Iman Shumpert continued his good play from his Game 1, 22 point performance. He starts off by hitting three three-pointers, and the Cavs as a team hit five threes en route to 38 first quarter points.
LeBron James isolates at the top of the key, jab steps a couple times, and drives by Chicago’s Jimmy Butler and stuffs it in his face, setting up a beautiful poster dunk.
Here’s the second angle in slow-motion:
LeBron James takes the screen and drives hard at the basket. James takes the ball over Jimmy Butler’s head, and hits the off-balance floater in the lane.