The Bulls have opened the series in the right way, taking game one from the hosting Cleveland Cavaliers in a 99-92 victory where they led pretty much wire-to-wire.
The Bulls started out with the same scorching-hot start as they did in their close-out win over the Bucks, and in a similar fashion. Mike Dunleavy was on fire in the first quarter, hitting 5 shots and netting 13 points. The Bulls also were controlling the glass, as they were up against a Cavs starting lineup that included the embalmed Mike Miller in place of the injured Kevin Love. The Bulls quickly had a 16 point lead.
The Cavaliers, or specifically Kyrie Irving and LeBron James, responded in the 2nd quarter, with Kyrie at one point scoring 10 straight (after staring the game 1-7) and the Bulls once again giving up offensive rebounds to Tristan Thompson. The lead had gone down to 5 entering into halftime.
The 3rd saw the Cavs tie the game, but it was immediately followed by a 15-0 run by the Bulls. LeBron looked to be lazily hoisting jumpers (and missed 7 of 8 at one point) while Rose was hitting some amazing shots, Pau was absolutely cooking from midrange, and Butler took advantage of some steals.
The Bulls had an atrocious lineup to start the 4th quarter, as their 3 best players all had played the entire 3rd and were now sitting at once. The ensuing 10-2 Cavs run made things interesting the rest of the way. But the Bulls held them at arms length, with the Cleveland offense kind of going into the toilet. The Bulls didn't initially take advantage but were never outside of a multi-possession lead, and a big basket by Butler under a minute to go sealed things.
Shortly after, there was a bit of a scare as Rose hurt his shoulder after going through a screen, but though he exited the game he seemed fine and said post-game it was merely a 'stinger'. It was an odd finish to a pretty solid game from Derrick, who finished with 25 points and 5 assists but needed 26 shots to get there (as he had zero trips to the line). Butler was the next-highest Bull with 20 on 7-16 shooting and 6 assists of his own. Irving had 30 for the Cavs, who, as a reminder, lost the game.
Obviously, a huge win for the Bulls as they steal home-court advantage, but also a game that they seemingly had to take. Thibs ran with a really tight rotation (which features Kirk Hinrich and not Nikola Mirotic - let alone Tony Snell - sorry sports fans) and the Bulls had some hot 3-point shooting (10-18 as a team) and an off night from LeBron (who finished 9-22 for 19 points). But this game also didn't do anything to disprove that the Cavaliers defense is pretty bad. The Bulls feasted from mid-range for much of the night, and some of the lack of free-throw attempts were due to the Cavs not playing hard enough defense to foul.