In one of the best games thus far in the NBA Playoffs, the Chicago Bulls won Game 1 against the Cleveland Cavaliers 99-92.
LeBron James and Kyrie Irving were without the third piece to the big three tonight. With Kevin Love out for the rest of the playoffs, it's crucial for the Cavs duo to step up. In the early minutes of the game it seemed as though they could not do so. The Bulls outscored the Cavs 27-15 in the first quarter.
As always, Cleveland made a second quarter run. LeBron James started off the quarter by bullying his way into the paint and straight to the rim multiple times. Once he got his inside game going, he started to kick the ball out and his teammates also started to heat up. James finished with 19 points, 15 rebounds, 9 assists, and 3 steals and helped lead his shorthanded Cleveland team.
As LeBron started to set up teammates with open shots, Kyrie Irving took full advantage. Kyrie started to pick apart the Bulls defense and was finishing at the rim over, under, and around defenders. Then he expanded his game and started to knock down jump-shots from all around the court. Although Irving played great for the Cavs, he took some risky shots that eventually led to the Bulls running out on the fast break. Don't be fooled though, Irving still had a great game and racked up 30 points and 6 assists.
While Cleveland played their version of a two man game, the Bulls played with their own version. Their duo featured Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol. All night they ran the pick and roll and got wide open jumpers atop the key. Sometimes Jimmy Butler would also jump into the pick and roll offense. No matter who was involved, the Cavaliers could not stop the Bulls pick and roll offense tonight. The Bulls big three played with hate in their hearts tonight and were ready to prove they came to play. Gaol finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 blocks while Rose had 25 points, 5 assists, and 5 rebounds. Similar to Rose, Jimmy Butler scored 20 points and also racked up 6 assists, 5 rebounds, and 4 steals.
While the Cavaliers struggled some tonight, they still played the Bulls very well. The only problem for them is depth. While LeBron almost had a triple double and Kyrie had 30 points, their production was still not enough. It's not every night your two star players can produce that well, and without help from other players on the Cavaliers, it seems this is the Bulls series to take. While the Bulls have brought a fiery hatred to the court, Cleveland is wishing they could bring Love to the court. Although Kevin Love will not be able to play again in these playoffs, J.R. Smith will return after Game 2. Maybe he will serve as the spark that the Cavaliers need in order to compete with the Chicago Bulls. But as it looks right now, Chicago is ready to win this series.