Chicago showed up at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, and played a heck of a game in holding off Lebron James and the Cavaliers in Game 1, 99-92.
Several Bulls deserve mention here, but Jimmy Butler’s defense of James, and his clutch shooting was a huge factor in the Bulls road win. Derrick Rose played his A game and scored a team high 25 points, some on off-balance ‘did you see that’ shots. They went in and when that happens, that usually is good news for the Bulls. Pau Gasol had open spaces throughout the night and calmly hit the 15-17 foot jumper. He finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Chicago as a team shot 50% from the field, impressive for a road playoff game against a hot club.
Yes, the Cavs missed Kevin Love and JR Smith. But Cleveland came back from an early deficit to make a game of it. Chicago started fast taking a 27-15 first quarter lead, playing much the same way they did in game 6 vs. the Bucks. They could do nothing wrong. However, Kyrie Irving had other ideas. He made long shots and short ones and carried the Cavs back into it. Irving had 30 points in a great game.
The story was Butler’s game against James. Lebron scored 19 points on 9-22 shooting. James missed several shots close-in that rimmed out. The Bulls got several breaks, but you need ’em if you want to win on the road. Cleveland looked a bit uneven, and James looked off his game. Not many players have a ‘bad’ game and score 19 points.
Chicago had a 11 point lead heading into the 4th quarter, but Cleveland chipped away and got the lead down to 4 points when Butler hit a basket that caromed off the glass into the net that sealed the win.
Cavs fans gave it to Joakim Noah whenever he touched the ball, and Noah did not score, but hauled in 9 rebounds.
Just before the end of the game, Rose seemed to take an elbow on his right shoulder that caused him to bend over in pain. He then left the game, which Chicago had in control. Rose said he had a stinger on his shoulder and should be fine. At least it wasn’t his knee.
Iman Shumpert of the Cavs scored a career playoff high 22 points on some nifty three point shooting to make up for Love’s absence.
Chicago takes a 1-0 series lead into game 2 and this right now is anyone’s series. Cleveland does not have JR Smith for Game 2 and will not have Love for the remainder of the playoffs. James will likely not have an off night like this one, so Bulls fans, be prepared.