We’ve seen the Chicago Bulls play the Cleveland Cavaliers tight in the past. This inter-divisional match-up has typically been the type of game where records can be thrown out the window and whoever is better that night will come away with the win. With the Bulls winning seven straight heading into Thursday’s showdown. What resulted was a tightly-contested 115-112 win by the Cavs.
It was another strong game for the Cavaliers dynamic duo of LeBron James and Kevin Love. The duo combined for 61 of the team’s 115 points, on a combined 21-38 shooting. Love in particular was incredibly efficient while really competing physically with Robin Lopez to help minimize his impact on the game.
For how well the Cavs played, it just seemed like they never could truly get the Bulls to go away. Chicago came into this game winners of seven straight, and their hot play would not go away willingly. While the Cavs defense was far from perfect, Chicago found ways to convert tough looks and keep their offense cooking throughout the night.
The balanced attack Chicago received from Lauri Markkanen, Denzel Valentine, and Nikola Mirotic helped them keep pace with the Cavs offense. While LeBron and Love were the clear offensive leaders, they did receive great performances from Kyle Korver, Dwyane Wade, and Jeff Green offensively off the bench.
In the end, it took another clutch performance from LeBron, and some defense from Wade to seal the Bulls fate and end their winning streak. Without Tyronn Lue and J.R. Smith, the Cavs found a way to keep their composure and come away with the win.
- Given the potential disadvantage the team had on the inside in terms of size, the Cavs did a great job of team rebounding. Love did a great job of sealing off Lopez and allowing his teammates to control the ball. While it didn’t do favors to his stat-line, it was an important factor in mitigating one of the few advantages the Bulls had.
- The second unit missed a few good looks in the first half, but they continue to impress on both ends of the floor. While integrating Tristan Thompson into the unit hasn’t always been seamless, when it clicks it makes them even more formidable on the defensive end of the floor. Wade, Korver, Green, Thompson and Cedi Osman all have quick hands and the ability to get out and run after stops. In the fourth quarter the bench came away with four consecutive stops and gave the Cavs breathing room for the first time all night (even if it was short-lived). It’s impossible to overstate just how important their impact has been this season.
- Once again, Korver has been one of the most valuable contributors for this team. His ability to score in bunches, and the threat of that ability helps to open things up for everybody else. While physically limited, he still has quick hands and the ability to impact the game on both ends. Without him, this team would certainly have far fewer wins on the year.