The Bulls annihilated the Bucks in game six for redemption and are now set to face a depleted Cavaliers team.
Bulls Beat #362 - Bring on the Cavs
Thanks Doug. I agree with you taking the Cavs. I just can't see the Bulls' depth make up for the Cavs having probably the 2 best players in the series.
Rose vs. Irving - Rose has to at least match him for the Bulls to have a chance. I think that's going to be tough for 7 games, with Irving really taking his game up another level this year. It will probably go back and forth, but Rose will have at least one clunker, maybe 2 or more. I'll call it a draw but I probably give a slight edge to Irving, and that to me would decide the series.
Jimmy vs. LeBron - Great as Jimmy has been this year, LeBron is a full level better. Each will play probably 45 minutes wherever he is needed most. But LeBron is better, way better.
Pau/Noah vs. Mozgov/Perkins - Pau needs to win this battle but I don't think he is up to it. I think Mozgov will give him problems and play him to a draw, at least. I hope I'm wrong and Pau pwns him like he should as an all-star and veteran. Noah should outplay Perkins but I don't know what we get from Noah anymore. Like the PG matchup, Bulls have to win -- even dominate -- this matchup for the Bulls to have a chance, and I think it's probably a draw, but I could see a scenario where the Bulls do it. Foul trouble for Mozgov would be big, Pau should try to draw fouls without whining about not getting them.
Taj/Niko vs. Thompson - The Cavs' loss of depth here is huge. If Thibs can find a big man combo that matches up well against Thompson, Blatt doesn't really have much to counter with besides an altogether smaller lineup. Bulls have to find a way to dominate this matchup but I don't know that I see either Taj or Niko dominating, so it might be a slight Bulls win, like winning one game, which probably won't be enough to win the series.
Dunleavy/Hinrich/Snell vs. Shumpert/Smith/Miller - J.R. Smith might make the biggest impact among these guys, but hopefully MDJ can offset him at least a game or two. Snell had a big game against the Cavs in the regular season, maybe he does it again. Hinrich shouldn't see the floor, but he will, and he sometimes annoys LeBron. This group is probably a wash.
We need Pau/Noah to win us a game, Niko/Taj to win us a game, and Derrick and Jimmy to pull out 2 games vs. LeBron and Kyrie and I just don't see it. Dunleavy and JR offset and the Bulls' "depth" is essentially Brooks, who has had a rough playoff so far, Snell and Hinrich. That's actually better than Cleveland's depth but do these guys really win you a game? Probably not.
Have the Cav's announced that they are starting Perkins? It seems to me that they would start Thompson. Maybe they think that they can get away with Perkins because we start 2 centers also, but I doubt it.
If Rose only breaks even with Kyrie, I don't see how we win the series, unless Butler breaks even with Lebron also, then its a 50/50 shot.
We have to win the battle on the boards, which we did not do during the regular season. Of course, that should be a slam dunk, since we have the 4rth or 5th best rebounder in the league and they don't. I wonder if Thompson is aware of that?
In his playoff preview on NBA TV, Isaiah Thomas said that the Cav's have the 2 best offensive players in the east, thus they should win the east. Unless Rose changes that, it is still true, so I don't see how they are still not the favorites.
Obviously, the Bulls chances are better than they were a week ago. If the Bulls have a chance we should know by Wednesday night. To me, Lebron is in the that peak Jordan phase of his career where he just knows exactly what needs to be done to win. So until we actually beat him in a playoff series, I'm not predicting it, unless Pop suddenly becomes our coach, and our players start executing like they play for the Spurs.
At least, it is nice to go into this series healthy and with some hope, as opposed to what has been the case the past 3 offseasons.
That could have been more clear but I was referring to the matchup at the C position. Gasol/Noah should dominate Mozgov/Perkins on paper, but I don't think it's going to go down that way.
IF the Bulls can decidedly win the battle in the front court, then Rose doesn't necessarily have to beast Kyrie for the Bulls to win the series, he just needs to play him to a draw as the front court offsets LeBron's advantage over Jimmy. But despite the absence of Love, I don't see the Bulls front court dominating the way they need to in order to win the series.
I cannot feel the Bulls are underdogs in this series. Why?
1) Love played far better in the Cavs' first playoff series than he had in the regular season. He clearly was the 3rd best player for the Cavs. He will be missed!
2) The Bulls have far more decent players than the Cavs. I think they can simply overwhelm the Cavs.
3) Rose has shut down Kyrie pretty well in the past. He likely will rise to the challenge again.
4) The Bulls showed the killer instinct in their last game - finally! If they maintain that same attitude against the Cavs, the Cavs will have no chance, barring a serious injury to a Bulls player.
Bulls in 5.
"Overwhelm the Cav's", I have to give you credit, you are the eternal optimist, probably a good recipe for general happiness.
I hope I am being realistic rather than overly optimistic. As you point out, it is more fun. I guess we will know in a week with 4 games played.
I look at how the Bulls scored on Milwaukee in the last game, and the Cavs are vastly inferior on D to the Bucks. The Bulls should put up 110 ppg, IMO. Will the Cavs?
I think most posters would agree that right now Kyrie Irving is a better player consistently key word being consistently then Derrick Rose. What did he put up, two 50 point games this year? Then you have LeBron James the greatest player in the game vs. a very, very good player on the rise in Jimmy Butler. I love Jimmy Butler, but James is clearly the better player here.
To me the real question is can the Bulls make this a series? Personally I think Mirotic will be a good player in the league, and should have never had his minutes jacked with the way they were post March. I mean immediately after his run he had games where he only played 14 minutes which was a mistake IMO. Also similar to the Rose situation, allowing him to jack up so many threes on such a poor percentage was probably not a good idea. Derrick has yet to kill us in the playoffs with threes so will see. I digress though as the point is underutilizing Niko I think hurts this team offensively. Now his confidence and rhythm are diminished, and I'm not sure more minutes will find him at his best unless you are willing to suffer through 30 minutes of crap to get him back into rhythm.
Ideally, heavier minutes for Niko and every other game for Dunleavy would be my priority. That doesn't mean playing Niko at the SF either he should be solely at PF. His minimum minutes should be 28ish. There's no denying Dunleavy's efficiency overall has been very good this post season. Though 10ppg in 30 minutes is nothing to write home about nor is the 0 for everything game. I'd also give Jo less minutes every other game and Pau a small reduction as well with more Niko and more Taj. Also, you will need threes and impact from Tony Snell at some point in this series.
Do I think Thibs will show such sophistication in alternating key player minutes on a per game basis? Highly, highly doubtful.
Annyywaay, I'm gonna take the Cavs in six in this series or 4-2. I do get the read that this team is not happy with Thibs nor do they have the greatest team chemistry right now especially between Pau and Noah and Pau and Rose. Just my sense of things. On the bench late in the blow out you just felt a distance between Pau and Jo. Maybe it's just me. Ironically while this is usually a negative, I think the tension could be a fueling point for players like Jo, Pau, and Rose. Time will tell.
I forgot to mention that Brooks at certain points should be able to give you something. Again though, what Thibs giveth in certain aspects of fundamental coaching, in others such as one on one player development and not ironically tailored player minutes incorporating a greater team energy, he surely taketh away.
The lack of Love will only prolong the series from 5 to 7, but I would be very surprised if the Bulls beat James 4 times. It is very clear that James and Irving are the 2 best players of the next series, and I would say they will probably play over 40 minutes each game. This league is a league of Superstars, and the team that has the best player is always the team to beat. I hope I am wrong, but if I was going to bet my money, I would put on the Cavs, not the Bulls.
Everyone says that the Cavs have the two best players, but I think Butler is better than Kyrie due to defense. Kyrie is a great scoring guard. But, Butler is no slouch and not that far behind him. The difference is defensively, where Butler is top notch and Kyrie is below average. Even Rose may be a better defender than Kyrie and that's saying something.
I think the Bulls have more upside as a team when firing on all cylinders. The question is if they will play up to their ability.
I suspect that they will be especially motivated and hungry so there is a chance that they can play closer to their ceiling than floor. Bulls in 5. (Assuming Bulls win first two with JR out, which is HUGE. Plus, Bulls play better away since the UC crowd is quiet and tense.)
Chicago has a 50/50 chance of winning this series. James and Irving will not beat themselves, but the other players they rely upon can help Chi win. For example Perkins see himselp as being big and mean and thats his only talent. Bulls can take advantage of his personality weaknesses by putting Mohammad in the game to aggrevate him intentionally. Each of Cleveland's average players can simply be outplayed.
I honestly think the Bulls have the talent to win this series. LeBron and Irving are probably the best two players, but Butler, Gasol, and Rose are all pretty close to Irving (as is Noah if he's healthy and motivated, which I think he will be for this series).
With Love out, Butler, Gasol, Rose, Noah (if), Gibson and Niko are all better than the Cavs' third-best player.
If the Bulls defend and rebound like they can, they win the series. I'm just not sure how much faith the players have in Thibs any more- if us idiot fans are wondering "WTF is Kurt doing playing 20 minutes in Game 6 of a playoff series", doesn't it seem obvious that the players are probably wondering the same thing?
We all saw Niko score 20 a night in March when Taj was out, and we saw him finish 12th in the entire NBA in 4th quarter points for the season, and we all saw the team dominate Milwaukee when Niko was playing PF... don't you think the players noticed the same thing?
I hope like hell I'm wrong and that Thibs knows what he's doing. If we can win this series with Kurt playing 30 minutes a night and Niko playing zero, I'll be quite happy.
I agree that basically there's LeBron, and then there's Kyrie, Jimmy and Derrick, probably in that order but the three are all pretty close to each other while LeBron stands over-sized head and shoulders above all. I don't think Gasol and Noah belong in the conversation of difference-making players but if they do make a difference and dominate the front court or get Mozgov in foul trouble then the Bulls have a great chance to win.
Gasol is an All-Star and Noah reigning DPOY, they need to be difference-makers for the Bulls to win this series.
Gasol needs to continue being a dominant defensive rebounder, and if he can do that while giving us 16-18 points on ~50% shooting while hopefully getting Mozgov into foul trouble in a couple of games, he'll be a difference maker.
Noah has to dominate the boards, play outstanding pick and roll defense and make the Cavs pay if they aren't guarding him. If he can do all that, he'll be a difference maker.
The two of them combined to average 8.0 assists/game against the Bucks, that could also be huge if they can set up their teammates for easy buckets.
In other non-Bulls related news how about the Clippers taking out the Spurs? Damn! Looks like S.A.'s long run is finally over. Seems like Clippers vs Warriors is inevitable. Provided they don't stumble vs. Houston and Memphis respectively. Whoever comes out of the West I hope they beat Cleveland. Provided Bulls don't pull off the upset..
That was an epic game and yeah, I have to think that does it for the Spurs. I would guess Duncan hangs it up and that's that. Amazing run for him and for them. I think the Rockets are playing better than the Clippers actually, I think they get to lose to the Warriors in the WCF.
Side note: with the two day off intermission, I hope I can break protocol, and mention that for Bears fans their two top picks this year.. actually look like excellent selections. Kevin White is going to be at minimum a very good receiver and NT Eddie Goldman according to everybody it seems was a steal as a run snuffing interior linemen for national champion, run defense leaders, and final four Florida State. Nice job Ryan Pace. With John Fox and the quality staff they brought in, along with some solid FA pickups this Bears team will be competitive, and if they can get Jay Cutler's head out of his you know what, and get him playing back to the Cutler of two years ago he will at least be solid as in not drag the team down. No not playoffs, but big rebound expected with entertaining football. Go Bears.
It won't be easy but I have faith in the Bulls. Even if Kevin Love were still playing i still believe we could beat them. The key to this series is going to be the Derrick Rose/ Kyrie Erving match up. For us to win Rose is going to have to either outplay Erving or cancel each other out. Personally i think Rose wins this match up because Erving really can't defend him. The few times they played against each other in the regular season Rose literally ran circles around him, and Kyrie expended so much energy trying to keep up defensively that it took away from him offensively.
The only real threat I see in this series is Lebron James. We simply don't have an answer for him and I would prefer Butler not to defend him because we really need his offense but we have no other option. This is where i wish the Bulls would have made a mid season trade to bring in a defensive small forward. They knew we would have to face Lebron eventually so i would have prefered to be better prepared especially with him possibly playing pf. Neither Dunleavy, Mirotic, Gasol, Noah, or Gibson can guard him. The only two that can even challenge a shot is Butler and Snell and I could see Snell being schooled. So it will be interesting to see what happens. I think if Butler's guarding James then we'll need to play Niko more minutes at the 4.
I meant Irving lol
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