The Bulls and Cavaliers have been playoff rivals since Jordan hit the shot over Craig Ehlo. A lot of people are excited about this match-up between the Bulls and Cavs for a few reasons. The Bulls have became somewhat of a personal rival for the LeBron, espcially Joakim Noah, then you have the Rose-Kyrie match-up, and finally, these two are probably the best teams in the east. It's surprising that this is not the Eastern Conference Finals but I'll take it.
Bulls stole home-court from the Cavs, knocking them off, 99-92. Four players out of the Bulls starting 5 scored in doubles figures, Derrick Rose leading the way with 25 points. Joakim was the lone Bull who didn't score in double figures, only 0 points for the hustle machine, but he did come up with 9 boards (3 offensive), 4 dimes, and 2 blocks.
The Cavs are without Kevin Love which I think gives the Bulls a big advantage in the paint. Without Love, the Cavs lack that offensive presence in the paint, Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson only combined for 13 points while Pau Gasol scored 21 points, 13 of which coming in the third quarter. I think this will be the story of this series because it will force the Cavs to small ball, which can either work in their favor or not, and in tonight's case, it didn't work out.
LeBron went to the 4-spot and he had a very good game on the boards, grabbing a game high 15. He also dropped 19 points and 9 dimes but committed 6 turnovers. I think LeBron will have to play power forward in order for the Cavs to win this series but after tonight I might have to rethink that only because it didn't create better opportunities for the Cavs. Playing small would help the Cavs offensively but the Bulls were still able to control the paint and game.
Kyrie led all scorers with 30 points but shot 10-23 from the field. Unlike the Bucks, the Bulls has someone that can cancel out Kyrie, in Derrick Rose. Rose might not be playing at a level that Kyrie has played on this season, but he can reach that level. The only thing that makes you take Kyrie in the match-up is the fact that Rose is coming off an injury. I personally think that these two will give us a very entertaining match-up this series.
I picked the Bulls to win this series, long before Kevin Love's separated shoulder. To me, the Bulls have a much deeper squad than the Cavs, which they didn't really use tonight. Nikola Mirotic only played 2 minutes but I think he will be a big factor in this series. The Bulls also have an advantage in the back-court, being able to use 3 point guards to throw at Kyrie Irving, who played 44 minutes today. I expect an exciting series though but I'm picking Bulls in 7 games.