That was fast. The Cavaliers have a 2-0 series lead over the Bulls, have won both games by double-digits, and still there seems to be panic, at least in the national media. I know, I know, that is to be expected - people are looking for any reason to write the Cavaliers off - but still, talk about quick to jump off the bandwagon.
Think about this for a minute. The Bull always seem to play the Cavaliers tough. Any season. That's ok to admit and like I said in my preview, I prefer a scrappy Bulls team that will extend the Cavaliers for 4 or 5 games than a Raptors team that would have bowed out the same way the Detroit Pistons did last season. It's a good thing. It should not be a surprise that these games are entertaining for 48 minutes. That is how every Cavs/Bulls games turns out and this playoff series is no different.
Back to last night. Think about some of these numbers. As Brian Windhorst talked about last night, the Bulls took 22 more shots than the Cavs. Twenty-two. The Bulls scored 56 points in the paint. Perhaps most impressive, they actually broke a team record for turnovers in a game with 4. Think about that. There was a pretty good team in Chicago for 10 years or so that won 6 Titles that never took care of the ball in a game as well as the Bulls did against the Cavaliers last night.
Does anyone really think they'll match any of those again in this series?
Look at the box score. The Bulls had five scores in double-figures. Three of those players, Derrick Rose(23), Joakim Noah(25) and Luol Deng(20) scored over 20 points. The Bulls had 13 offensive rebounds. They shot 16-17(94.1%) from the free throw line. I don't think it is a stretch to say that this Bulls team, a team that went 41-41 during the season, played about as well as they can.
What did it all add up to?
Another double-digit defeat.
I know, that is a bit misleading. The game was tied at 77 heading into the 4th quarter. It was close throughout, with the Bulls outscoring the Cavaliers, and outplaying them, in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. It shouldn't be a surprise, however, that the Cavaliers did what they have done all year - they dominated the 4th Quarter, outscoring Chicago 35-25.
That is a difference between this team and last year's version of the Cavaliers. Last season, the Cavaliers blew a lot of team out early and coasted to victory. There were over a dozen games last year the LeBron James didn't even play in the 4th quarter. That hurt the Cavaliers in the playoffs, especially against Orlando. In each game of that seires it seemed to be the Magic that made the big play - hit the big shot.
This year has been different - much to the chagrin of some fans. The Cavaliers have played to the level of their opposition - for the most part - until the 4th quarter. It has helped the Cavaliers gain confidence in the 4th quarter. The first two games of this series have been great examples. The Cavs led by 7 in the 4th in Game 1 and won by 13. They were tied in the 4th quarter in Game 2 and won by 10. They have become an extremely tough team to out-perform in the 4th quarter.
I'm not suggesting that the Cavaliers will have an easy time in Chicago the next two games - far from it. I just don't foresee the Bulls playing any better than they did last night. Better yet, the looks on their faces after the game said the same thing.
The Bulls took their best shot at the Cavaliers and the Cavs smiled and kept on going - all the way to the 2nd Round.