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Tag Archives: Chicago Bulls
After watching the game live at The Q and then going home and watching it a second time on TV (I love my DVR) here’s what jumped out at me from the Cavs 99-92 loss to the Bulls in Game #1 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.
THOUGHT: I was surprised to see Mike Miller in the starting line up yesterday. I thought for sure it would be James Jones getting the start because he’s a little more athletic and plays slightly better defense. It turned out to be a horrible decision by David Blatt to start Miller as the man he guarded Mike Dunleavy went off in the first quarter scoring 13 points on 5 of 5 shooting. Miller did not score in the first stanza.
ADJUSTMENT: I would start James Jones in Game #2 and try him on Dunleavy. If that doesn’t work then switch and put Jones on Joakim Noah who is not as mobile, nor is he an outside threat that you’d have to chase all over the floor.
THOUGHT: Why did David Blatt have one of your best defenders in LeBron James guarding one of the Bulls worst offensive players in Joakim Noah? As I told Josh Weir, Cavs beat reporter from the Canton Repository yesterday before the game on my radio show, if LeBron is going to guard a “BIG” it should be Pau Gasol because he’s more mobile and prefers to step out and shoot the jumper. It also allows Timofey Mozgov to stay close to the basket to protect the rim and be in position to grab rebounds if he is guarding Noah instead. Sure enough Gasol killed the Cavs on the “Pick-n-Pop” to the tune of 21 points, his most points against eh Cavaliers this season. According to the Cavs players postgame, the game plan was to leave Gasol alone for the shots. WHAT?
ADJUSTMENT: Anyone who knows anything about Pau Gasol knows that his bread and butter, his favorite thing to do is “Pick-n-Pop” for that top of the key jumper or that wing jumper and the Cavs elected to give him that shot as part of their game plan? What the hell was David Blatt and his staff thinking? In Game #2, as I suggested before Game #1, if LeBron is going to guard a “BIG” put him on Gasol to take him out of his comfort zone and make him work for his shots. Don’t waste LeBron on Noah who’s got a bad knee and is their worst offensive player. This also allows Mozgov to clog the middle and challenge some of those drives that Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler got in Game #1.
THOUGHT: Twice in Game #1 I thought David Blatt waited too long to take a time out. I marked in my game notes at 8:26 of the first quarter the Cavs were down 8-2 and Blatt waited another possession and basket by the Bulls to take a TO. Then again after the Cavs had tied the game twice at 51-51 and 53-53 and had a chance to take the lead both times and failed, the Bulls went on a 10-0 run before Blatt called a time out. He should have done so after LeBron had a terrible stretch of settling for jumpers and turning it over. I would have called the TO when the Bulls took a 58-53 lead, instead Blatt waited until it was 63-53.
ADJUSTEMNT: David Blatt must realize that he is shorthanded as far as talent goes and needs to keep that in mind when he’s thinking his team will play out of a bad stretch and the Bulls are picking up momentum. He has to sense when that is and take a time out sooner rather than later.
THOUGHT: I tweeted out in the third quarter that LeBron James was settling for jump shots and wasn’t attacking the basket enough. He had just settled for, and missed 4 consecutive long jumpers and had a poor turnover because he wasn’t going to the basket. During this stretch the Cavaliers went from being tied 51-51 to trailing 70-55. He has to play more “BIG BOY BALL”!
ADJUSTMENT: LeBron can overpower any player on the Bulls roster and he can take anyone of them to the basket or post them up when he wants to. So he needs to do more of that, especially when the game is close or there’s a need to stop momentum that the Bulls may be gaining. Credit to James after the game during his press conference for admitting that even though he came close to a triple/double (19pts-15reb-9ast), that he did not play well in Game #1.
THOUGHT: Just like in the Boston series in three of the four games the Cavaliers had a horrible start. They fell behind 13-2, 18-5 and 25-11 in the first quarter of Game #1. I know there was a line up change and they’re missing two starters, but they have to at least keep it even until they get in the flow or make the changes necessary to get it going.
ADJUSTMENT: First off start James Jones or Tristan Thompson over mike Miller. Then one of the “Dynamic Duo” of LeBron and Kyrie have to be ultra-aggressive and take it upon themselves to get buckets or set their teammates up for easy buckets by being in attack mode and going to the basket and in a worst case scenario, at least get fouled and score at the line. James and Irving were a combined 3-10fg and only 1-1ft in the first quarter in Game #1 and that led to a season low first quarter total of just 15 points.
THOUGHT: I figured the Cavs would struggle somewhat offensively in Game #1 and they did only shooting 42% from the field and a dismal 26% from 3-point country, but I expected their defense to play much better. While they missed J.R. Smith’s offense in the game, they really missed his length and athleticism on defense guarding the perimeter.
ADJUSTMENT: Again I go back to taking LeBron off Joakim Noah and having him guard their perimeter players more. Also in spurts, matching up offense for defense play Shawn Marion and/or James Jones to be longer and take away those outside shots that the bulls want to take. Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor pointed out to me that the Bulls are one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the playoffs this year, so you’ve got to find a way to limit that until J.R. returns.
THOUGHT: The Cavs scored a total of two fast break points in the game, 2! That can’t happen against a Bulls team that is known for the half-court defense. You can’t let the Bulls set up on defense every time down the floor. The Cavaliers have to find a way to get some easy baskets in this series off the break.
ADJUSTMENT: Because Kevin Love is out and you need to send everybody to the boards to rebound, the Cavaliers need to play better defense to get some deflections and steals which will lead to some easy fast-break opportunities. Also, LeBron and Kyrie need to push the tempo, pick up the pace more whether it’s off rebounds, steals or even a made basket to try and score early on the Bulls before they can get set on defense.
LeBron James offensively had one good quarter in Game #1, the second quarter. In the second, he was 4-7fg for 8 points and 2 assists. The rest of the game he was 5-15fg for 11 points. In this ongoing chess match between Tom Thibodeau and LeBron, the Bulls head coach won game #1. Now it’s up to LBJ to counter in Game #2. LeBron scored only 19 points in Game #1 and his teams are now just (7-14) in playoff games when he scores fewer than 20 points in a game.
Derrick Rose scored 25 points in Game #1 and at times looked very good. But he was also the beneficiary of a couple of lucky shots that went in from long range to beat the shot clock buzzer. He also needed 26 shots to score those 25 points. Let’s see how D-Rose does coming back from only one days rest and after suffering a stinger to his shoulder late in the fourth quarter. Check out these numbers on Derrick Rose: on two days rest between games in the postseason so far Rose is averaging 24ppg and shooting 48% from the field and 48% from 3-point country. On only one days rest between games in the postseason this year Rose is averaging only 14ppg and is shooting 29% from the field and just 23% from beyond the arc. Game #2 happens on only one days rest.
The Bulls magic number is 92. Chicago this season is 29-1 when they hold their opponent to 92 points or less in a game.
According to Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal, David Blatt and the Cavs, prior to yesterday’s game, had never started the lineup of Irving, Miller, James, Shumpert and Mozgov before Game #1.
The Bulls were averaging 17.5 turnovers a game in the postseason going into yesterday’s Game #1 versus the Cavs. They turned it over just 10 times, a postseason low against the Cavaliers in Game #1 while also shooting 50% from the field and 55% from 3-point country. One of their more efficient offensive games in the playoffs so far.
1 – TEAM WINDEX – With Kevin Love, one of the Cavs best rebounders out, the Cavaliers will have to send all 5 guys on the floor to the glass on the defensive end to clean up the Bulls misses and don’t give them many second chance opportunities. Plus, hope that Timofey Mozgov, LeBron James and Tristan Thompson get you some offensive boards for second chance baskets, because there are going to be a lot of missed shots in this series due to the defenses.
2 – VALUE THE BALL – The Bulls are known for their lockdown, aggressive, physical, half-court defense under Tom Thibodeau. Add to that the officials will probably let this be a very rough series if the Boston/Cavs match up was any indication. With that in mind, all Cavs players (especially Mozgov) must be strong with the ball at all times. Chicago will try and hip check the Cavs while playing their half-court “D”, play the passing lanes and double-team LeBron and Kyrie at times when they have the ball to force turnovers for easy run outs and fast break baskets. LeBron most of all, but other Cavs players must also be very careful of the cross-court pass. If you don’t zip it there and it’s a lazy pass with too much air under it, the Derrick Rose or Jimmy Butler will pick it off like a defensive back and take it to the house for an easy 2 points.
3 – DYNAMIC DUO AND WHO? – When the “Big 3” were healthy and scoring 60 or more points per game the Cavaliers were almost unbeatable. Without Kevin Love the rest of the way the “Big 3” is down to “Batman and Robin”! LeBron and Kyrie are going to have to average a minimum of 25 points per game each for the Cavs to have a chance to win in this series and then hope that someone else from the “Justice League” shows up to help them fight off the evil Bulls and the NBA headed up by “The Joker” Adam Silver. Who will that be? Iman Shumpert in a starting role? J.R. Smith when he comes back from suspension? “The Janitor” – Tristan Thompson as his minutes should increase in this series? Or maybe “All The King’s Men” – James Jones, Mike Miller, Shawn Marion and Kendrick Perkins! Realistically it’s going to have to be a combination of all of those guys to help make up for the loss of power forward Kevin Love’s 18 points per game and 9 rebounds per game he was averaging in the playoffs before he succumbed to an illegal arm bar by Ronda Rousey….err…..I mean Kelly Olynyk.
4 – CASH IN AT THE LINE – Points will be so hard to come by in this series with Chicago, so when you do get the chance to get some free ones, you got to make them. The Cavaliers as a team need to shoot at least 75% at the free throw line in this series.
5 – BLATTSKETBALL – David Blatt’s every move, every decision will be magnified in this series because the opponent is better and he’s coaching shorthanded with the loss of Love for the rest of the season, and Smith for the first two games. Who he decides to start, how long he plays him, how deep will his rotation will be, when does he call a time out, in-game adjustments, in-between game adjustments and offensive play calls after a time out are just some of things Blatt will have to be at the top of his coaching game for the Cavs to have a chance in this series. Hopefully he will rely on assistant coaches like Tyronn Lue, Larry Drew and others who have either played or coached in these situations before.
6 – BRING THE “D” – When offense is hard to come by in this series, and it will be at times, the Cavs must play team defense like they’ve never played before this season. Chase Mike Dunleavey off the 3-point line. Close the lanes so Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler won’t drive as much and if they do then Timofey Mozgov must be there to challenge their shots. Your shot doesn’t always travel, but defense does. Play “D” and you’ll be in every game with a chance to win it at the end and like the Cavs chances in a close game with finishers like LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.
7 – KEEP YOUR HEAD – Joakim Noah, Mike Dunleavey and who knows who else will try and muck up this series with hard fouls, taunts and some pushing and shoving. They’ll do this because they know they aren’t as talented as the Cavaliers and they’ll try and take the Cavs out of their game and get in their heads like Boston did last series. As dirty as it was, and it meant losing a player to a serious injury last series, the Cavs can’t afford to lose any other players to ejections or suspensions in this series. Cleveland must keep it’s cool, (maybe with the exception of Kendrick Perkins) and don’t do anything stupid that would jeopardize losing a game or affecting the series in a negative way.
PREDICTION: Even with the loss of Kevin Love for the remainder of the playoffs and without J.R. Smith in the first two games, the Cavs still have the best player in the world in LeBron James and one of the up and coming superstars in this league in Kyrie Irving, along with home court advantage. It wouldn’t surprise me if Cleveland lost one of the first two games, but then went on the road and stole one back from Chicago and that would set things up for a great Game #7 at “The Q” in which the Cavaliers will prevail over the Bulls and advance on to the Eastern Conference Finals.
LeBron James return to Cleveland officially will get underway on Thursday, October 30th when the Cavs play host to Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks at 8pm at Quicken Loans Arena on TNT.
The NBA released its complete schedule today and the Cavaliers will also be featured as one of the Christmas Day games when they travel to “Sunshine State” to take on LeBron’s former team, the Miami Heat at 5pm on ABC.
Other games and dates of significance for the Cavs:
After opening at home against the Knicks on October 30th, the Cavs will travel to Chicago to take on Derrick Rose and the Bulls the next night, Halloween night, at 8pm.
Bulls at Cavs 8pm on TNT on Martin Luther King Day.
Both match ups with the NBA Champion Spurs will be nationally televised games. The Cavs will host the Spurs on November 19th on ESPN at 7pm. LeBron and the Cavaliers will travel to San Antonio on March 12th, on TNT at 8pm.
Kevin Durant and the Thunder make their only regular season appearance in C’Town on January 25th at 3:30, while Kobe Bryant and the Lakers play at The Q on February 8th at 3:30pm.
The Cavs will appear on National TV 29 times! 10 games on ESPN, 10 games on TNT, 5 games on ABC and 4 games NBA-TV.
To print out the Cavaliers 2014-15 schedule click the link below –
First of all, some good news on Pacers small forward Paul George who was seriously hurt in the Team USA scrimmage on Friday night in Las Vegas. George, who suffered a gruesome right tibia-fibula fracture in the 4th quarter of the scrimmage, had successful surgery and reportedly will remain in the hospital for up to three days. His recovery time is estimated between 9-12 months.
While George was a shoe-in to make Team USA, and as bad as his injury is for him, it doesn’t hurt the chances of Team USA too much. Yes he would have played and contributed to the team, but there’s enough depth on the roster to overcome his injury and Team USA will still be considered the favorites to win the FIBA World Cup in Spain that tips off August 30th.
However the same can’t be said for the Indiana Pacers. This is an insurmountable blow to the Frank Vogel’s squad in the Eastern Conference. Losing your best player, an ALL-NBA 3rd team performer, who impacts the game at both ends of the floor, is a devastating to blow. The Pacers have nowhere near the depth that Team USA has and thus scratch them off the list of teams who had a chance to play for an NBA Championship during the 2014-15 season.
Right now the back-up to Paul George on the Pacers depth chart is a 30 year old, 2 year NBA player by the name of Chris Copeland who averaged 3.7 points per game last year. Add to that the Pacers didn’t resign Lance Stephenson or Evan Turner and Paul George is no longer there, and you can forget about the Pacers as a viable contender to win the East, let alone an NBA Championship.
No true competitor likes to gain an edge this way in sports, but injuries are part of the game and because of this serious leg injury to George and the Pacers, it elevates a number of team’s chances in the Eastern Conference. The two teams who benefit the most are Chicago and Cleveland.
With the Bulls getting back what looks to be a healthy Derrick Rose from what we saw early in that Team USA scrimmage and adding Pau Gasol to a playoff squad from a year ago, to me the Bulls are the favorites right now to win the East.
However, should G.M. David Griffin and the Cavs find a way to pull off a trade for double-double machine and All-Star Kevin Love to team up with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, I believe the Cavaliers become the favorites in the Eastern Conference.
My thoughts and prayers go out to Paul George. Here’s hoping for a complete and speedy recovery so he can be back on the floor playing for the Pacers during the 2015-16 season and for many years after that.
The Cleveland Cavaliers made it official today, signing Andrew Wiggins, the first overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
The 6’8, 200 pound swingman was chosen by Cavs G.M. David Griffin over Jabari Parker and his Jayhawhks teammate Joel Embiid.
Wiggins left after his freshman year at Kansas where he averaged 17.1ppg and 5.9rpg. In 4 games for the Cavs in the Las Vegas Summer League, Wiggins averaged 15.5ppg.
By signing Wiggins today the Cavaliers are unable to trade the talented rookie for 30 days, as they continue to explore the possibility of dealing for Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love.
Minnesota part owner, president and head coach Flip Saunders has made it clear that if the Cavs want Love, Wiggins must be the centerpiece of the deal.
There have been varying reports on whether or not the Cavaliers are willing to part with Wiggins. If they do, his salary of $5.5 million for his rookie season will now count as part of the deal since he has officially signed his contract, but any trade involving Wiggins can’t officially happen now for 30 days. The Chicago Bulls and Golden State Warriors are also reportedly interested in trading for Kevin Love.
Per ESPN’s Brian Windhorst the Cavs have also signed 2nd round pick, shooting guard Joe Harris out of Virginia to a 3-year, $2.75 million dollar contract.