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Huge zeroes from Bulls Game 1 win over Cavs

The big nothings it took for the Bulls to take 1-0 lead in against the Cavs.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Bulls opened their second round series against the Cavaliers with 99-92 win in Cleveland to steal homecourt advantage, for the time being. In doing so, there were goose eggs of note:

1. Jimmy Butler had zero fouls.

There is no bigger zero in the data that impacted the result so much as Butler not fouling LeBron James, despite checking him almost the entire game. Butler had help from aggressive shows by Taj Gibson to prevent LeBron's penetration and even instances of intelligent ice by Pau Gasol; and LeBron still had 12 shots within ten feet, connecting on seven.

Despite the strong finishing percentage by LeBron, though, he only totaled 19 points in 22 shots. When LeBron successfully got into the paint, Butler forced some kickouts; most impressive, when LeBron took the ball up in the air, Butler refrained from committing fouls by dropping back a half- or full-step or simply not jumping into him. The one shooting foul LeBron drew was when Butler took an angle to force him baseline and Gasol iced himself, forcing Gibson to make a third effort too late.

The danger in LeBron's penetration aren't the two-point finishes at around 55-60%. The danger is going to the free throw line to hit seven or eight out of every ten freebies; or--worse--giving LeBron three-point layups by adding a free throw to the made field goal seven or eight of ten times. Eliminating these free throws created the high margin of error on the ten shots LeBron took away from the rim, where he shot 2-for-10.

LeBron scored 7.6 of his 35.2 points per 100 possessions on free throws, alone, in the regular season; six of his 32.2 against the Celtics in the first round. The Bulls committing only one shooting foul against him, while contesting 14 shots prevented so many points against them. Butler keeping LeBron to under one point-per-shot, while committing none, in over 44 minutes, is extraordinary.

2. The Bulls allowed zero points in five runs that totaled almost an entire quarter.

The Bulls had five stretches of scoring five or more unanswered points: a 10-0 and 5-0 in the first quarter; a 6-0 in the second; a 15-0 in the third; and a 6-0 in the fourth. Those runs totaled around 11 minutes.

3. The Cavs had zero leads.

On the opening possession of Game 1, Mike Dunleavy hit an open three. Six minutes later, Dunleavy hit his third three of the quarter to put the Bulls were up 21-7. The Bulls were up by as many as 16 points early in the second quarter. It took Cleveland around twelve minutes to tie, early in the third, but the Bulls responded to that comeback effort with a 15-0 run. The Cavs got within two, but never fully caught up to the Bulls again.

The Bulls were not behind in this game for one second.

4. LeBron had zero assists to Kyrie Irving.

LeBron averaged 14.1 passes to Irving per game. Only 1.1 of Irving's field goals per game were assisted by LeBron in the games the two played together. In Game 1 against the Bulls, LeBron passed to Irving 25 times, after which Irving shot 1-for-6, and the one bucket was unassisted.

5. Derrick Rose had zero turnovers in his first 31 minutes of play.

Over the regular season, Rose averaged 3.2 turnovers per game in 77.5 touches over 30 minutes. Not until five minutes into the fourth quarter did Rose register his first turnover of any sort, and after that, he didn't cough up a live rock again. The only other turnover was an arguable charging foul called on him with four minutes remaining in the game. Only one live ball turnover in 101 touches is a huge accomplishment, but...

6. Rose had zero free throw attempts.

Though the ball control and 64 passes without one going to the wrong team or in the stands was refreshing, Rose had only 25 points in 26 shots, despite going 3-for-6 on threes, because he bricked 15-of-26 shots on the night while having no trips to the charity stripe. Ten shots in the paint should sound pretty, but ten of his 20 two-point outside of the paint does not. All the more reason to be thankful for Zero No. 5 in this post.

7. Irving hit zero threes in the second half.

The Bulls are among the best in the NBA at moving players off of the three-point line to force inefficient long-two-point jumpers. Irving attempted zero threes in the third quarter and missed all three of his three-point jumpers in the final quarter. Two of which were huge.

Down by six with four minutes remaining in the game, Irving walked the ball upcourt, where he was given space by Rose. Tristan Thompson and LeBron set a double ball-screen, around which Irving easily separated himself from Rose for space beyond the arc. But he was met with the stretched hand of Gasol in his face. What would've created a three-point game was just another brick.

Down by six again, but now with less than 31 seconds remaining, LeBron inbounded from the baseline to what was supposed to be a quick three off a screen by Irving. The Bulls read the play and forced Irving to receive the inbound near the halfcourt line. Thompson set a pick on Rose, Irving used it, and Gibson hedged extremely hard to immediately contest Irving's shot for one of the ugliest bricks of the night.

Stats via