Tag: Bulls Cavs Game 1

NBA Playoffs: Zone defense ain't no thing, Cavs coast to a Game 1 win over Bulls


Thumbnail image for Jamison_Game_Bulls.jpgLet’s not pretend that the Bulls’ performance in this game was somehow significant; after building an early double-digit lead, the Cavs worked, and held, and coasted, until a temporary hiccup against the Bulls’ zone defense made this game a bit closer than it should have been.

Does that mean Chicago is somehow going to make a series out of this thing? Not bloody likely. As soon as Cleveland had the chance to regroup during a timeout, their execution against the zone was much improved: they found holes to shoot from mid-range, hit the offensive boards, and made quick cuts to the basket through the heart of the zone.

That’s not to fault the Bulls’ effort, because Chicago was very focused. They’re just not all that talented, and when forced to match up against the likes of LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal, the Bulls struggled.

Cleveland focused on going through Shaq (12 points on nine shots, five rebounds, four assists) early in the game, where he put a spotlight on Joakim Noah’s inability to contain him one-on-one. Noah just doesn’t have the size to deny O’Neal position in the post, and while he worked to contest Shaq’s shots, his lack of size (and girth/strength, especially) was a bit of a disadvantage. Cavs fans should be pleased with Shaq’s first game back from injury, even if it’s going to take a few games to get O’Neal properly re-acclimated to the pace of the NBA game.

LeBron James twiddled his thumbs to score 24 points while grabbing five rebounds and throwing in six assists for good measure. The guy doesn’t just make the game look easy, but also makes racking up stats look easy. He let the offense work through Shaq at times, made a few passes, and let let the Cavaliers offense establish his own flow.

That may not make for a spectacular individual performance now, but what about later in the playoffs when the production of Antawn Jamison (15 points, 10 rebounds) or Mo Williams (19 points, 10 assists, five turnovers) matters much, much more? Cleveland will be thankful for games like this one.

There was the Cavaliers’ turnover problems (18 in the game to 14 for the Bulls). Make a note. It could have just been a few over-anxious trigger men on the fast break, but Cleveland was a bit sloppy with the ball.

Derrick Rose (28 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds, seven assists) was as spectacular as advertised. He wasn’t as efficient as you’d like to see him be (how could he be with this team against Cleveland’s defense?), but his array of floaters and runners was absolutely beautiful. It’s days like this where you see what Rose could be if his mid-range game was a bit more complete: he gets right to the basket, nails a step-back jumper, and hits an intermediate floater, creating a can’t-win proposition for the D. If and when this cat develops three-point range, the entire league should be on notice.

Luol Deng is better than the Luol Deng that played today. He defended LeBron fairly well at times, but his decision making on offense was nothing short of atrocious.

Unfortunately, the day’s events indicated that the rest of the series will proceed as planned. The Cavs will have plenty of time to tweak their offensive approach against the Bulls’ pesky zone, the Bulls aren’t likely to grow out of their significant size disadvantage (they lost out 38-50 on the boards), and Cleveland’s depth (Anderson Varejao outrebounded the Bulls’ reserves 15-4 on his own) isn’t going anywhere. A temporarily successful gimmick defense does not a series make, no matter how impressive Derrick Rose looked.


NBA Playoffs: Cavaliers set to dominate, so enjoy the Bulls while you can

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What do the Chicago Bulls need to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers?

A miracle. Hijinx. Steroids. Food poisoning for LeBron. Flubber. Possession by a basketball-playing demon. Stink bombs in the Cavs’ locker room. A magic lamp.

Oh, and on top of all that, they need to play nearly perfect basketball from top to bottom.

Honestly, if the Bulls win a single game I’d be mildly impressed. If they take two games, it would be a serious accomplishment. If they win three games, some shenanigans must be involved. If they win the series, I will eat my own foot. This is the Cavs’ series to lose, but there’s just not even a remote chance they’ll actually lose it. I wouldn’t even count on them misplacing it for awhile.

LeBron James is just too good, and the team Danny Ferry has constructed is finally worthy of James’ talents. Not only is LeBron playing alongside more talented players than ever before (Antawn Jamison, Shaquille O’Neal, Mo Williams), but the pieces have fit together in particularly impressive fashion. It’ll be nice for the Cavs to have an additional first round adjustment period to work Shaq back into the mix, but Cleveland is entirely too good to even let Chicago smell a victory.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy Derrick Rose while you still can. Despite Derrick’s incredible athleticism, breathtaking style, and startlingly high ceiling, he’s a commodity that’s taken for granted in the NBA. He has a decent rep, but he still gets lost in the superstar shuffle. Rose may not be fully evolved just yet, but he’s still an fascinating player and an incredibly entertaining watch. You’ll have plenty of time to stargaze with LeBron, so don’t glaze over Rose’s performance in this series.

That’s what you should really be looking for from the Bulls: entertainment. This team plays hard, and the resolve they showed to force their way into the playoffs was certainly admirable Appreciate Joakim Noah’s coverage of the pick-and-roll, or his effort on the glass. Pay attention to Luol Deng’s defense, and try to find signs of a dependable scoring game. Laugh at Jannero Pargo. Watch Brad Miller be Brad Miller. Point at Vinny Del Negro’s hair. Nod in approval at Kirk Hinrich’s game. Try to figure out Taj Gibson’s future.

Just make sure you do all of that quickly, because the Cavs are already getting their brooms ready. If I was a betting man, I’m taking Cleveland in four.