If someone tries to tell you “Cleveland will be fine without Kevin Love, he doesn’t fit in” you’ll know they weren’t watching Cavaliers games lately. Love has found a comfort level in the postseason, averaged 18.3 points and nine rebounds a game in the playoffs, and is shooting 47 percent from three. It may not be the role he envisioned, but Love is finding a role with the Cavaliers.
Note that said “minimum” of two weeks, not two weeks. It is not uncommon for a shoulder dislocation to mean more than a month on the sidelines. But you can’t blame the Cavaliers for trying to be positive. Still, he likely will miss much or all of the series against the Bulls or Bucks.
The Bulls, which are the favorite and lead 3-1 in the series, roll out a big front line with Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol, with Nikola Mirotic coming in off the bench. Cleveland could have used Love’s size and ability to pull some of that size out of the paint. The Cavs are going to ask a lot more of Tristan Thompson than they had hoped.
Injuries have played a big role though this entire season and into the playoffs, that’s not changing now.
But just how big a role in the case of Love we likely learn on Monday.
Bucks outwork Bulls, stay alive on Jerryd Bayless game-winner
MILWAUKEE — The Bucks aren’t going away quietly. They know they weren’t supposed to be here — Jason Kidd even acknowledged after the game that many of the reporters in the room didn’t have his team in the playoffs before the start of the season. But they’re making their presence felt, playing the Bulls tough and not letting them get anything easy. On Saturday, that tenacity finally paid off with a win: Milwaukee outlasted Chicago 92-90 to stay alive going into Game 5 at the United Center on Monday.
The Bulls’ 28 turnovers allowed for 39 Bucks points, and a few crucial plays down the stretch. An O.J. Mayo three was waved off for coming after the shot clock, but then he hit another one. And after the Bulls tied it up with a Pau Gasol three-point play, Jerryd Bayless won the game at the buzzer with this layup off a gorgeous out-of-timeout play call from Kidd:
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau didn’t want to put the blame on just that play — after all, how could he when the Bulls coughed up as many turnovers as they did?
“We beat ourselves,” Thibodeau said after the game.”
“Mistakes will happen, we just made too many of them throughout the game,” said Gasol. “We put ourselves in a position to try to win, but I don’t think we played with enough sense of urgency.”
The Bucks, meanwhile, showed no shortage of that. They had no other choice.
“If you lose, you go home,” said Mayo after the game. “I don’t think any of us are ready to go home. We lose one more game, our season is over, and we’re having a great season.”
Their season goes on, for at least two more days.
PBT Extra: Bulls more than just Derrick Rose show, too much for Bucks
This Bulls team is not like the last few Bulls teams.
For years, the Bulls have been a defense-first team that ground their opponents down and found just enough offense to get the wins. For a while, that offense was the Derrick Rose show until his injuries changed that.
This year’s Bulls have much more offense — Jimmy Butler, Pau Gasol, and others. That’s what Jenna Corrado and I talk about as we look at how the Bucks vs. Bulls series moves forward with the Bulls up 2-0.
This has been a physical series, but the Bucks don’t have the firepower to challenge Chicago. That lack of firepower makes me suspicious of how the Bulls’ defense looks this series. Cleveland will be a better test.
Jimmy Butler, mic’d up during Bulls’ Game 2 win over Bucks: ‘They can’t guard me’
The Bucks will be hard-pressed to win more than a game against the Bulls in their first round playoff matchup, because while Milwaukee struggles to score at times and doesn’t have one consistent go-to offensive option, Chicago has a bunch of them.
During a game where Pau Gasol and Derrick Rose combined to shoot a dismal 8-of-26 from the field, Butler took over, scoring 14 of his 31 points in the final period to drag his team to victory.
He was mic’d up for his performance, and can be seen telling his head coach, “They can’t guard me, man.”
On this night, Butler was absolutely right.
Bucks’ Zaza Pachulia ejected after two incidents with Bulls’ Nikola Mirotic, who left the game due to injury (VIDEO)
The Bucks were in desperation mode in Game 2 against the Bulls on Tuesday, perhaps realizing that their only shot to compete in the series is to muck things up.
After an early tussle that saw four players pick up technical fouls, Milwaukee’s Zaza Pachulia picked up two technicals of his own in a one-minute span late in the fourth quarter, both stemming from hits he delivered to Nikola Mirotic.
The first was an elbow to the back of the head on a rebound, while the second came after a scramble for a loose ball on the floor.
Mirotic left the game a short time later, and was said to be dealing with multiple injuries afterward.
The Bulls said Mirotic has a left quad strain and will be re-evaluated Tuesday morning. Mirotic also has a swollen left knee, and the fear in the locker room immediately after the 91-82 win over the Milwaukee Bucks was that he might have a concussion as well. …
While it’s unclear when Mirotic injured his knee, he did get caught under a big pile as he and Pachulia grappled on the floor. He was taken out of the game immediately after the scuffle and was looked at by Bulls trainer Jeff Tanaka on the bench. Mirotic headed to the locker room before the final buzzer to get ice and treatment.
“Hopefully it won’t be anything serious,” Bulls big man Pau Gasol said. “I think Zaza had a couple of bad plays, not basketball plays. He got penalized with technicals, but just got to protect players.”
Mirotic is an important part of what the Bulls do, so his status will be something to watch.
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The scene shifts to Milwaukee for Game 3 on Thursday.