Game one of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals saw marquee performances from Pau Gasol, Kyrie Irving, and Derrick Rose. LeBron James filled up the stat sheet, but was ultimately too inconsistent. Without Kevin Love, James will be asked to stretch defenses from the power forward position. He couldn't hit from the outside, failing to convert a three pointer in the game, and also turned the ball over a game-high six times.
With the Cavs this shorthanded, LeBron James has to be great. He was merely good, and the Cavs dropped game one to the Chicago Bulls 99-92.
There was a lot in this game to be happy with. The Cavs rebounded from a tough start, and had chances to win this game despite being down big in the first quarter, and then by 11 heading into the fourth quarter. The Chicago Bulls made a lot of jump shots throughout the game. Some you would expect, as Mike Dunleavy and Pau Gasol have that skill. But Derrick Rose, a 28% three point shooter, started 3-4 from deep. The Bulls as a team shot 56% from three point range. I don't think they'll count on that moving forward.
Jimmy Butler did slow down James, though. The Cavs were just 7-25 from three point range, and LeBron James finished with 19 points on 22 shots. He added 15 much needed rebounds and nine assists, but the turnovers were difficult. The Cavs were forced into playing lineups with Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova for long stretches. James Jones couldn't make a shot. Mike Miller wasn't effective.
Kyrie Irving was very good, and brought the Cavs back into the game in both the second and fourth quarters. 30 points, 23 shots, six assists, two turnovers. It was an encouraging performance. He only made one three pointer, and the Bulls were able to take away spot up opportunities from him. Iman Shumpert also put together a great effort. He played solid defense on Butler, and scored efficiently. He was asked to do a lot, and acquitted himself well.
Thompson was the better of the Cavs bigs tonight with Gasol just nailing everything from midrange. Neither he nor Timofey Mozgov were great, but they played within themselves. They did what you would expect. Maybe J.R. Smith moves the needle, but the Cavs are going to have trouble scoring.
Losing game one is not the end of the world, but things get tricky if they drop another game at home on Wednesday. We will have more coverage for you moving forward.