The Bulls weren't even close in this game. The final score didn't do it justice. However, things weren't maybe so bad except for a few key plays and outcomes for Chicago.
LeBron wasn't so great as everyone says
Yeah he had 33 points on 29 shots. That's a lot of points, but the Bulls made him work really hard to get them. The Bulls can easily overcome a 33 points on 29 shots performance.
LeBron was more aggressive, but he still looks like a guy the Bulls can generally contain. LeBron was in full ISO made plenty tonight and was worn out by the end of the game.
If this is the best LeBron has, then the Bulls are actually in pretty good shape. I think LeBron has more upside left though.
You can't let Tristan Thompson kill you
Thompson had six offensive rebounds but also forced several possessions for the Cavs with his presence.
Pau Gasol looked absolutely helpless boxing him out, and the Bulls will need to look at the film and decide how they want to deal with Thompson next game.
The Bulls bigs as a whole look lethargic and incapable of boxing out correctly. The problem exacerbates itself when Gasol plays huge minutes in single stretches. The Bulls need to find ways to keep him fresh by limiting minutes or timing his breaks better.
In the end, Gasol needs to bring a lot of offense to be worth playing if he's going to put up this little effort on defense/rebounding.
Sometimes a team is hot from beyond the arc
If the Cavs missed an additional three 3 pointers they'd have been around 35% and on par towards a more normal night. That would have put the game within six.
Kyrie Irving getting fouled twice beyond three point line didn't help either and accounted for half his free throws.
Limit those stupid fouls and Cleveland's three point shooting regresses a bit, and the Bulls are right there in the game.
This is the Bulls.
They didn't defend the three point line.
Pau Gasol, hero of game one, destroyed them in game two with his laziness while not contributing on offense.
Derrick Rose, over applauded for a pedestrian game one, struggled mightily in game two as well.
The Bulls couldn't do much consistently or well and will need to really analyze the game film to figure out how to fix their flaws.
Need more Niko
Niko's quality performance came in garbage time against the Cavs bench, so it should be taken with a grain of salt. However, given the Bulls struggles on the glass and defense with their big men, I'd like to see Niko get some more big man minutes.
Niko's an X-factor for Chicago, and the fact that you're getting killed with energy means it might not be a bad plan to get Niko in there some.
We'll see how it shakes out, but it's hard for me to see the Bulls winning this series (or beyond) without Niko playing a big factor. He's been a huge lift for Chicago lots of times this season, and the Bulls have been missing that pop off the bench at times.
Now Niko's struggled frequently too, so playing him more isn't a panacea or anything. However, Chicago needs some energy from it's front court, and Niko should get a shot to give it to them.
Derrick Rose needs to not suck
He was hot from mid-range in game one for a brief period, but he sucked it up in the fourth quarter and still ended up taking more shots than points in his "good" game.
Tonight, he was really poor.
On top of that, Derrick hasn't gotten to the free throw line at all. He's rarely attempting to get into the paint and isn't playing aggressively enough.
The Bulls need Rose to do more off the dribble in order to really push Cleveland. Especially when Irving is matched up on him.
They don't need MVP Derrick, but they need something much better than what they're getting.
The same really goes for Aaron Brooks who was a great offensive X-factor for Chicago in the season but struggled in round one and hasn't done any better in round two.
The lack of efficient production at the point guard position is a real problem for a Bulls offense which is built around the position.
Were the Bulls content?
The Bulls are now 0-9 in a series after beating LeBron in game one. If they were simply content to get game one then they're ignoring their own history. I don't find that likely.
The Cavs simply came out on fire, and the Bulls were put in too much of a deficit to ever recover. Some games are one in quarter one. This was one of those games.
Chicago fought back pretty hard, but they simply couldn't overcome that hot shooting Cleveland started with.
Game three thoughts
J.R. Smith will be back for the Cavs and everyone seems to think that J.R. Smith will add a whole bunch to the Cavs. That could happen. However, J.R. Smith can shoot you out of a game as much as he can shoot you into one.
The Cavs will have more depth for certain, but Iman Shumpert's great play so far has been more than what I expect Smith to regularly provide for the Cavs anyway. In this sense, I don't think his return will make a huge impact.
I think Derrick Rose is due for a legitimate good game. While getting plenty of accolades for his game one performance, it was the type of performance that would have been quite quiet if it were a loss.
I'm hoping that the Bulls can show a real home court advantage. The Bulls crowd was fairly lack luster against the Bucks. Hopefully the seriousness of this series gets the crowd pumped.
I think after a game of poor rebounding and close outs, that the Bulls make the correct adjustments to box out and close out more effectively. I think the Cavs get less from their role players in terms of efficient play.
The real question is how much more Kyrie and LeBron have to offer. Both of those guys can and might play better.
All in all, I like the Bulls odds in game three. I give them 60/40 to win the game.
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