The headband was back. So was the dominance.
A couple months after ditching his trademark headwear in an apparent show of team unity, LeBron James brought it back. If he was sending a message that he means business, it was a success. James totaled 33 points and 8 rebounds in the Cavs’ Game 2 win over the Bulls, tying the series as they head back to Chicago.
The final score was 106-91, and even that is misleadingly close. The Cavs controlled things from the opening tip. Chicago never led once, and Cleveland led by double digits for all but the first six minutes.
After Monday’s disastrous decision to start Mike Miller in place of the injured Kevin Love, Cavs coach David Blatt opted for a bigger lineup with Tristan Thompson in the frontcourt next to James and Timofey Mozgov. The change paid off big-time: Thompson’s 12 rebounds, six of which came on the offensive end, were crucial in preventing the Bulls from making a run and ever seriously getting back in the game.
In Game 1, the Bulls were hitting every open jumper and all Cavs players except Kyrie Irving were missing them. The trend reversed Wednesday: James Jones shot 5-for-9 from three-point range and the Cavs even got quality minutes out of backup point guard Matthew Dellavedova.
James was locked in after much was made on Monday of Jimmy Butler shutting him down in Game 1. This is the LeBron that showed up Wednesday:
The Bulls have to be happy to get a split of the first two games on the road, but with J.R. Smith set to return in Game 3 (on Friday at the United Center), the Cavs will have another shooting weapon that the Bulls’ increasingly tired defense will have to account for.