It seems like the worst case scenario possible: Derrick Rose goes down with an injury, and the Bulls lost to the Cavaliers. However, despite the loss/injury, I feel fairly upbeat about the game.
First, Rose's injury doesn't look severe at all. If it ends up being a high ankle sprain that keeps him out for 10 weeks then I'll revisit my optimism, but this looks like a 2-3 day type ankle sprain rather than a 2-3 weeks type ankle sprain.
I wouldn't be surprised if Rose sits out the second half of the back to back against Minnesota, but I'd guess he'll be ready by the Orlando game Tuesday or shortly afterwards.
As for the loss, I thought the Bulls played fairly atrocious basketball. Despite that, they lost in overtime without their superstar. They could have won the game if not for a few tough foul calls at the end.
LeBron had a great game in the box score, but his aura of invincibility seems off to me. The Bulls weren't double or triple teaming him. They basically left him in isolation and let him get his.
Chicago basically lost the game in two areas: turnovers and rebounding. I suspect the Cavs might be a better turnover team in general, but the rebounding advantage is something I'd expect Chicago to clean up. In general, after this game, I felt better about Chicago's odds of beating Cleveland rather than worse.
Derrick Rose looked pretty bad ass
Prior to his injury, he put up 20 points on 8/16 from the field. He knocked down 2/6 threes and hit a few mid range jumpers as well. Overall, his level of play continues to be very high and aggressive.
I really like what I've seen out of Rose this year in terms of his approach.
Pau Gasol kinda lost us this game
He struggled boxing out his man more so than anyone else, and the offensive rebounds he gave up were so numerous that it was ridiculous.
It was enough for me to briefly think, Carlos Boozer may not play defense, but at least he rebounds. Briefly.
On offense, he shot just 6/18 which was amongst the worst of the Bulls players in terms of percentages. Gasol needs to start knocking own shots, but he absolutely needs to do a better job on the glass than what we saw.
He had a lot of good looks inside, but he simply could not finish them.
In general, we need a hell of a lot more out of Pau Gasol then we were getting on both ends of the court.
Dunleavy shows why we shouldn't write him off
Dunleavy had a great game. He missed a few shots clumped together in the middle of the game, but overall finished 4/7 from beyond the arc and 5/10 overall.
He looked very poised out there and created a few shots off the dribble when the Cavs got lazy and played under the screen.
He looked especially good given that Doug McDermott struggled. McDermott missed all three of his shots, two of which were wide open threes with no one in his zip code and a third was a pretty clean look from beyond the arc.
Quite simply, those are shots we expect McDermott to make 2/3 out of. Doug played hard on defense and had a nice come from behind block. He hustled out there, but the Bulls struggled while he was on the court.
Nikola Mirotic didn't add much either in his brief appearance. While Tony Snell got plenty of minutes on the floor and generally played pretty well, but again, lost track of time and situation at the end of the game committing a stupid foul on LeBron which helped the Bulls blow a five point lead at the end.
Kirk Hinrich had an amazing game
Kirk's shooting was tremendous, something I doubt we'll see with any consistency given his track record. However, his hustle was also great. He really led the come back with his spirit.
He went to the floor multiple times to get balls the Cavs could have had and provide the toughness we all love about him. I wish he could give a better more consistent effort, but I'll give the captain his due, I love watching him when he can put together a game like this.
Thibs rode the hot hand
Thibs used some interesting rotations out there and generally rode the hot hand. The one thing that disappointed me was in the Bulls final offensive possession with a tie game, they put out the same lineup they had to end quarter. Hinrich, Snell, Dunleavy, Gibson, and Noah.
This was an opportunity to go all offense. You know the Cavs are going to call timeout after this shot attempt if there's any time left, so you don't need to worry about defensive matchups.
There was no one on the floor skilled at getting their own shot which is crucial when you want to take a shot as close to zero on the shot clock as you can.
I really think the Bulls needed to put Aaron Brooks back in there for Tony Snell and possibly McDermott for Gibson and even Mirotic for Noah. Give the ball to Brooks with four three point shooters on the perimeter and see what Cleveland does to match up.
My guess is that Brooks is able to get you a great interior look in this situation or someone is taking a wide open jumper. The Bulls instead ran a Hinrich/Dunleavy pick and roll which might be effective if you didn't care when you got a shot off (ie, willing to shoot with 10 seconds left on the shot clock so you could try multiple times) but completely failed.
Can't say I'm too upset about the outcome. I would have loved a win, but the Bulls rallied on Cleveland without Butler and Rose. They got killed on the glass, something which I think they can improve on, and Cleveland really didn't look all that great.
I think the Cavs and Bulls will both be better teams by the end of the season, but the game showed that they're certainly in the same class. LeBron looks far more mortal, despite scoring a truckload of points, than he did a few seasons ago, and Irving is no prime Wade.
Despite the loss, I feel slightly more confident about the Bulls ability to actually beat the Cavaliers in the playoffs than prior to the game.
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