With Kevin Love lost for the remainder of the postseason due to injury, it may take more than one game for the Cavaliers to figure out the best alternative lineups and rotations.
Mike Miller got the start in Game 1, and though he did grab five rebounds in 16 minutes, his inability to positively affect the offense meant that the team would be better-served with Tristan Thompson in the lineup, who is a better defender and a tireless force on the glass.
Thompson played a starter’s share of minutes (37) in Game 1, and will reportedly get the chance to do so from the opening tip of Wednesday’s critical Game 2 contest.
In an attempt to split the series at home, Cavaliers coach David Blatt will start Tristan Thompson in Game 2 against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday, league sources informed Northeast Ohio Media Group.
Sources spoke on the condition of anonymity. Thompson will make his first postseason start at power forward, pairing up with LeBron James and Timofey Mozgov in the frontcourt, one source said.
The biggest effect of this decision might be how it impacts LeBron James, who can now return to playing the small forward position where he’s traditionally been able to do the most damage. Kyrie Irving explained why that’s a huge positive.
“We get our 3-man back,” Irving said. “It was great seeing Bron at the 4, but at times he was getting the ball just like our bigs and he’s giving it right to me.”
“Our dynamic throughout the entire year and what we’ve created is we play off one another and our bigs get the rebound,” Irving said. “Me and Bron are sprinting dang near at half-court ready to get our offense started, so we have our 3 man back and he’ll be out on the perimeter and all that energy battling Joakim Noah and all those other bigs can be afforded on Mike Dunleavy playing the 3 and also on the offensive end.”
James has admitted he needs to be more aggressive heading into Game 2, after a 9-of-22 shooting effort that accompanied a six-turnover Game 1 performance. Playing the position where he’s consistently been the most comfortable may do plenty to help achieve the desired result.