clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Bulls vs. Cavaliers final score: series even as Bulls waxed in Cleveland

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Given the history of the Bulls playoff performances against LeBron James, this wasn't an entirely unexpected result. It might have even been the most likely of results: the Bulls getting cold while the Cavs get hot, the Bulls needing rest and the Cavs shaking off rust, maybe some Bulls complacency with already having achieved their 'split' in Cleveland...add that together and you get a game two demolition as the Bulls lost 106-91.

It really was a funhouse mirror image of Game 1, with the Cavs opening on fire, their offense further fueled by putrid Bulls possessions. Maybe it was as easy as starting Tristan Thompson instead of Mike Miller, where the space for Pau wasn't quite as there as it was in game one, or the Bulls were more missing the same shots they made before, but it was an ice cold start. At one time early the Bulls had 6 points and 6 turnovers, as they missed their first 10 shots outside of the restricted area to start the game.

The Cavs, meanwhile, scored 38 points in the opening quarter on 65% shooting and went 5-6 from three. Even though the Bulls offense picked up a bit (it had to...) in the second quarter they only moved the deficit from 20 to 19, mainly because Cleveland kept hitting threes. And what was telling was that it wasn't coming from LeBron James or Kyrie Irving, as they went 1-4 in the first half from distance, but the rest of the team went 8-11, led by Iman Shumpert going 4-5.

LeBron's jumper still wasn't great and he didn't have the most productive night overall, but he indeed was 'more aggressive' (as annoying a LeBron thing as the headband by now), not only scoring in the paint but being much quicker in getting into his moves than in game one. By the end of the first half he already had more points than he did in the first contest, ultimately finishing with 33 points on 29 shots.

As you see there, the Bulls interior help was lacking a bit. And though the Bulls did go on a 14-0 run in the 3rd quarter to get the deficit to eleven points at its closest, LeBron and his teammates were able to keep taking advantage of a step-slow Bulls D and never allow the Bulls to get any closer.

And even when the Bulls would make a good initial defensive effort, they far too often then didn't secure the ball.

Tristan damned Thompson once again killed the Bulls on the offensive glass with 6 (and 12 total boards), and it was him and the other role players for Cleveland that really did the Bulls in. Even the shouldn't-be-in-the-league lineups, as the Bulls failed to put significant dents while Kendrick Perkins and Mike Miller played. Shumpert finished with 15, leaving in the second half with a groin strain (he returned, but I wouldn't be so sure he's not really hurt). James Jones had 17 points, Matthew Dellavedova had 9 and 9 assists, and Kyrie Irving had a seemingly-quiet 21 points, maybe because he got 10 of them at the foul line.

Meanwhile, Derrick Rose went another game without getting to the FT line once, and amassed more evidence that '1-day-rest-Rose' is a thing, and it's not very good. Derrick had his moments but missed a couple floaters early to help dig that big initial hole, and shot 6-20 for 14 points. He and Jimmy Butler had combined for a few nice plays in that one 3rd quarter run, but Butler also ultimately had a fairly rough night shooting 5-14. The team was 7-22 from three, all you regression-heads out there were on to something. The Cavaliers defense is still bad, but the Bulls looked better offensively after being in that huge early hole, and were missing a lot of open looks during and after that time as well.

Taj Gibson was the lone Bulls big who played worth a damn, and though Gasol's defense has been mentioned, at least he is a threat on offense (a huge one in the first game, obviously) whereas Joakim Noah isn't providing much of anything. There is something to be said for needing Noah's defense and rebounding, but when finding your team in a big hole and still giving up boards to the Cavs anyway, it is getting fairly ridiculous that Nikola Mirotic is buried on the bench until garbage time. It likely wouldn't have mattered (it's not as if Mirotic has played that well since his injury) and maybe that's an adjustment better saved for game three, as something may need to be done to counter what the Cavs countered with tonight.