Chicago Bulls at Cleveland Cavaliers (-6, 194 o/u)
Despite being favored by 4.5, the Cleveland Cavaliers (57-30, 33-11 home) lost to the Chicago Bulls (55-34, 26-19 away) 99-92 at home in Game 1. The Bulls will look to take a commanding 2-0 series lead tonight when they return to Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland for Game 2 (7:00 PM Eastern).
In many ways, the Cavaliers are learning on the fly how to exist without the injured Kevin Love and suspended J.R. Smith.
“Coming in, we knew what the circumstances were,” said Cavs head coach David Blatt. “We knew what we were looking at but we had to go through it to learn from it. Now we have and hopefully we come out a lot better.”
The Cavs were horrific from three-point range in Game 1, going 7/26, while the defense allowed the Bulls to hit 10/18 from beyond the arc. However, most of Chicago’s damage came from its pick and roll game, which saw center Pau Gasol score 25 points (including 3/6 from three).
“High pick and roll is a play a lot of teams run,” Gasol said. “With Derrick [Rose]’s ability and my ability to make plays for each other and make plays for others we were very effective, and let’s see if we can continue to be as effective.”
Said LeBron James, “We have to go back to the drawing board and see ways that we can be better with that particular play … when Pau is popping to the elbow and making those shots.”
The goods news for the Cavaliers is that they didn’t lack for some secondary scoring; Kyrie Irving put in 30 points while starter Iman Shumpert added 22. James, meanwhile, scored 19 and added 15 boards and nine assists, but he also turned the ball over six times.
“We all have to be better,” James said. “I have to be better. I wasn’t that good.”
Considering Smith doesn’t return until Game 3 – meaning tonight’s rosters will look substantially similar to Game 1 – the Bulls’ moneyline (+216) is the play.
(Photo credit: Keith Allison from Owings Mills, USA (Derrick Rose) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)