Tonight, it wasn’t just LeBron James who did in the Chicago Bulls.
It was the fine play of Matthew Dellavedov, Tristan Thompson and Iman Shumpert who handily beat an offensively challenged Bulls team.
Dellavedov, the back-up guard to Kyrie Irving, who got injured in the first half, played key minutes and played a major role in the critical win for Cleveland. The Aussie guard had a team high 19 points and hit three treys that must have felt like arrows to the struggling Bulls.
James had 15 points on only 7-23 shooting but when his supporting cast played so well, it didn’t matter. What did matter was James’ 11 assists to set up his teammates and they came through. Shumpert had 13, JR Smith 12, and Thompson netted 13 points for Cleveland who emerged victors from this hard-fought series. James also had 9 rebounds and just missed a triple-double.
Chicago had a good first quarter trailing the Cavs 33-31 and then the wheels fell off. The Bulls scored just 13 points in the second quarter and the Cavs took a 14 point half-time lead and were never threatened.
Irving didn’t return to the lineup in the second half, he wasn’t needed. The other Cavs seemed intent on ending this series.
It was the Cavs defense that might have been the “star” of the game. The Bulls never had a flow to their game after the first quarter. The Cavs put the clamps on them, and Thompson seemed to grab every loose ball. He had 17 rebounds in the game.
Chicago shot only 37.5% from the field. Two Bulls – Butler (20) and Rose (14) had double-figures but Rose’s contribution was minimized by the Cavs D. Chicago looked tired, but not making shots will do that to you. Forward Pau Gasol played but looked hampered by his sore hamstring. He had 8 points in the game, and was not effective after the first quarter.
In fact, not many Bulls looked effective with the net the Cavs cast over them. Chicago was out-rebounded 53-32 and that stat tells the story. Rebounding is an effort stat, and clearly, the Cavs played like they wanted this game.
Chicago lost to a better team with the greatest player in the League playing multiple roles. Many observers picked Cleveland to win in six games. They were right on the money.