Sloppy shooting, bad turnovers, and just all-around uncoordinated basketball was on the menu that night for the Cavaliers. Head coach David Blatt also tried to experiment by plugging Mike Miller into the starting rotation, which didn’t really work out. The Cavs not having Kevin Love and J.R. Smith out there put a wrench in their preparation. Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol, and Jimmy Butler let us have it in that game, with the Bulls leading by as much as 16 points.
The one positive to be found in that game was that Kyrie Irving let loose for 30 points.
Overall, the Cavs had a tough game. Chicago came out swinging and stunned us 99-92 on our home court. But game 2 would be a different story.
Chicago had no defense for Cleveland, who hit the ground running and left the Bulls in the dust early. Whatever angst and anxiety about the series Cleveland fans had after game 1 was suppressed with a dominating performance in game 2.
Final score: 106-91 Cavs. After a split at home, it was off to Chicago for games 3 and 4.
It all came down to the last play of the game when Derrick Rose sunk a buzzer beater to put the Bulls ahead 99-96. It was a dagger in the heart. Cleveland fans likened the ending to “The Shot”: when Michael Jordan sunk the Cavaliers in the 1989 playoffs with his infamous buzzer beater.
Rightfully so, people were upset afterward, venting their frustrations out on social media. I was too. It’s hard not to be upset after a game like this. Still, I felt the Cavaliers had it in them to persevere and win the series.
The Cavaliers burned through timeouts at the end—and almost burned one they didn’t have, which would have been the kiss of death to us that night and maybe even the series. Thank Joe Thomas that the refs didn’t see that call. I commend David Blatt for the progress he’s made so far in his first season in the NBA, but he almost made the biggest mistake of his lifetime: calling a timeout that we didn’t have, which is a technical foul. Luckily for us, the officials had a stoppage in play and we were able to plan something out anyway.
Blatt had an idea but LeBron scrapped it and drew up his own heroic finish. Déjà vu, the game came down to a buzzer beater. Only this time, it was the Cavaliers that sank the Bulls. Final score: 86-84 Cavs
In the fourth quarter, Chicago’s Taj Gibson became leg-locked with Cleveland’s Matthew Dellavedova and became so frustrated that he kicked Delly after he became free. Chaos ensued, Gibson was ejected (and got a towel thrown at him by a rabid Cavs fan). That incident pumped some kind of motivation into the Bulls players. The Cavs fended off a crazy onslaught like the North held Gettysburg from Pickett’s Charge.
The Bulls stampeded and came close to breaking through our frontlines, but when the smoke cleared, we won 106-101.
But as for this game? Yeah, kind of a snoozer, really. Nobody really scored a ton of points on either side and the Bulls completely ran out of gas in the second half. They stayed with us all series long, but finally they just collapsed right there on the court. Cavs won 94-73 and the Bulls limped away with rapiers in their hides. (Also, our little Tasmanian devil Matthew Dellavedova flexed his stuff and showed that he belongs with the big boys.)
Overall, the series was intense and action-packed. Derrick Rose came back to his superstar form in this series after countless injuries to him. Despite Cleveland pulling through, the Bulls proved to be a worthy opponent. While they played us tough, and at times dirty, they were still cleaner than the Boston Celtics. It felt good to beat them because Joakim Noah is on that squad and every time I see him upset that must mean Cleveland did something great. (I don’t know what his problem is.)