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Cavs 121, Bulls 98: blown out back to reality

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Pace Eff eFG FT/FG OREB% TOr
Cleveland 98.0 123.5 60.8% 31.6 13.5 11.2
Chicago 100.0 39.6% 28.6 32.1 12.2

 

Not much to say in a game that was this much of a destruction, except to point it out as exactly that.

One bright spot was Joakim Noah (even Rose wasn't much today especially after turning his ankle in the 3rd), with the first 20/20 playoff game in Bulls playoff history. Even when not making shots early in the game, Noah was active enough to accumulate fouls on the Cleveland frontcourt, though their depth (and ability to go small with LeBron at PF) doesn't make that much of an advantage. The Bulls were able to control the glass today, but not much else went right.

I found it a hard game to get into: early start time, lots of whistles, and the participants on the court also seemed sluggish. LeBron was accumulating stats but was still limiting his work to the outside. But then midway through the second quarter the tide started to shift, seemingly right when James Johnson checked in and committed 3 fouls in under two minutes. From then on the Cavs lived at the line, though Johnson's poor play (and any other odd VDN rotation decisions today) was merely catalyst if not a cause: no one thing contributes to a team scoring 75 points in two quarters as the Cavs did in the second and third tonight. They were able to spread the floor beautifully and exploit matchups with LeBron and Antawn Jamison. No need to go into LeBron's fantastic performance, I'm sure any media outlet will do more than enough to that effect.

And Cleveland did not call off the dogs in the perfunctory 4th period, which I thought was a good move on their part. Rest is not really an issue with game 5 on Tuesday, and this didn't allow the Bulls to salvage anything from this one to take into the next game. Though I doubt much 'carry-over' truly exists regardless, as evidenced by a team playing the Cavs so close for the first three contests to see such a huge disparity on Sunday.

What I think is an important lesson is not to believe that particular playoff performances will fluctuate the Bulls chances in free agency one way or the other. As much as I read how FAs were surely looking at these games as factors in their decision, the danger in that logic is that you have to then assume they see a poor performance like this and it hurts the Bulls chances. It probably doesn't, and playing well (while losing, mind you) didn''t help too much either. My theory is that it can't hurt, so no reason not to be excited about any showcase of the roster, but that roster hasn't changed even if the spotlight on them has. A roster that sometimes turns in games like this.