Cavaliers coach David Blatt did say that he'd treat Monday night's PRESEASON SHOWDOWN against the Bulls like a regular season game, and he sort of did that. Even moreso than Thibs! Look at our restrained big-picture thinking head coach over here.
So while the Cavs did have their stars in for more time than the Bulls did and won the game, Derrick Rose had a stretch that spanned the 2nd and 3rd quarters that can give Bulls fans plenty of hope.
Rose went off for 16 straight Bulls points in that time, include 3 three-pointers. You can check out a lot of that stretch here. As we've seen before in the preseason, the speed looks to be there.
Rose was going straight for the rim wherever and whenever he caught the ball, off a turnover or even a made FG.
There were some very nice half-court drives and finishes as well, probably the last stop in the lets-start-feeling-really-good-train. This one in particular felt great because it also exposed Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving's haplessness guarding a screen.
Rose wound up with 30 points on 12-18 shooting, going 4-5 from three. The Cavs didn't look to have much of a chance stopping him, with Matthew Delladova taking the challenge (Kyrie Irving had Hinrich, heh) for a lot of it and serving as a reminder that they don't have many options.
Irving himself heated up in the 3rd quarter, conveniently when Rose had already exited the game, with 28 points of his own. That stretched the Cavalier lead back over double-digits. When Rose re-entered the game in the 4th quarter with over 6 minutes remaining, his Bulls found themselves down 12. They finished down 9 in the 107-98 loss.
In that time the Bulls did pretty well offensively, with Mirotic, McDermott, and Gasol each hitting 3s created in part by the attention given to Rose. But they couldn't stop the Cavs on the other end, a bad trend for much of the game. Jimmy Butler was out with the thumb injury he suffered the night before which certainly didn't help, though while Tony Snell tried (given the nod over McDermott off the bench to try and guard LeBron James, as Dunleavy began the game) and didn't embarrass himself or anything, James still had a fairly casual 18 points and 6 assists.
Kevin Love had by far the worst night of the new 'big 3' in Cleveland, shooting just 2-10 but having 13 rebounds. It was actually Anderson Varejao who helped Cleveland dominate the interior, especially in the first half, as he finished with 22. The Cavs starting lineup looked a bit tentative and over-passing to start the game, but by the 2nd half you could see this will be a tough array of weapons for the Bulls to contain, even though Butler will help. It was surprising to see them do that much damage in the paint against the Bulls, as neither Noah nor Gasol looked particularly good in this. If we're trying to look for weaknesses though, the Cleveland bench didn't produce much at all outside of some Tristan Thompson inside finishes.
The Bulls role players didn't fare too well themselves. Mirotic pump-faked-and-drove to some FT attempts but was 0-6 before that late three-pointer. McDermott did very little and moreso than Mirotic looked like he was overmatched for a big part of the game, struggling to even attempt to get shots off. Aaron Brooks kept the Bulls from getting blown out in the 1st half (before Rose re-entered) with some makes, but his bench-helmed lineups don't seem to be able to create offense for the shooters. I damned Snell with faint praise earlier but he did finish 3-11 on offense. It's a real problem considering these guys are not out there for their defense and rebounding. To start the 4th quarter, the all-bench lineup was 0/5 with 4 turnovers, making a Rose-led late comeback less likely.
But it's less of a problem considering we probably won't be seeing all-bench units much in the regular season. And while we saw a bit more Derrick Rose, it wasn't to a regular season level either, and the great news is he looked fantastic when out there.