Now I know the Chicago Bulls are Derrick Rose-less (and believe me, I feel for them and Mr. Rose), but they were also without him when playing the Miami Heat in the second round of last year’s Eastern Conference playoffs. They are still a tout team without their superstar.
But the Cleveland Cavaliers played a great game and there are a lot of things for them to take away from this win in order to continue to do so.
The Cavaliers pushed the tempo right off the bat, with Kyrie Irving leading the counter-attack. There was a lot of energy at both ends (see: Alonzo Gee alley-oop).
This man came out swinging, blocking Noah twice at the rim and adding a monster slam at the other end. He really started going in on the offensive end in the second half, with Mike Brown’s seeming instructions to give it to the big man in the post. He also gave his best Paul Gasol impression with a lot of great dishes from the post leading to buckets for this Cavs’ teammates.
Though all the trade talks and the fact that, for the most part, he allowed Luol Deng to be the leading scorer of the night with 27, Dion Waiters showed a lot of good things on the offensive end and just what he can do for the Cavs. He played more to his dribble drive, pull-up game, which got him to the rim early. He continued to play well throughout the game, including a pull-up jumper on a dementing cross-over dribble that shook Kirk Hinrich to allow Waiters an open look. Dion finished with 20 on 8-10 shooting.
Escaping a three-game slump where Thompson averaged less than four points a game, Tristan’s play tonight showed why he needs touches for Cleveland to win. Thompson is always a force on the boards, but his scoring ability is definitely to the Cavaliers’ benefit.
The Thompson/Bynum duo definitely out-shined the Bulls’ frontcourt at the rim and on the boards, showing the dominance that Cleveland saw when they added. Andrew Bynum over the summer. The half-court strategy of Mike Brown running the offense through the post showed to work.