With Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Kyle Korver all sitting out to get one final night off before the playoffs, the Chicago Bulls rolled past the Cleveland Cavaliers 107-75 on Thursday night at the United Center. The Bulls closed the regular season with an NBA-best 50-16 record.
The Bulls placed six players in double figures against the Cavs (21-45). As all five starters played below 31 minutes, the “Bench Mob” came up big on this night as they have all season long. John Lucas III led the effort, with 25 points and four assists, while Joakim Noah – the only starter who received over 30 minutes of action – scored 13 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, his 24th double-double of the season. Taj Gibson added 10 points and 12 boards and threw down four vicious dunks.
Although the game didn’t carry much meaning to it, as Cavs rookie sensation Kyrie Irving sat out, but Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau’s bunch continued to show the principles – on both ends of the court – that have propelled them to top overall seed in the league. That means they will have home-court advantage throughout the postseason, no matter if the San Antonio Spurs (49-16) win at Golden State later in the night.
Even though Rose sat, the Bulls didn’t miss a beat. The Bulls’ guard rested along with Deng and Korver as a precautionary measure. Rose said after Wednesday’s game that he felt much more confident and explosive, but it was a collective decision to have him miss his 27th game of the season – a little over four times more contests he had missed in his first three seasons (six). Rose certainly didn’t look like his usual self in the two games since returned from a right foot/ankle injury, so the question is whether the rust will affect the reigning league MVP in the coming days and weeks? Bulls fans obviously hope so and will soon learn that answer.
Next up, the Bulls take on the Philadelphia 76ers (35-31) in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals Saturday at the United Center. Chicago will boast the home-court edge as long as its postseason run lasts.