Game 2: Bulls at Cavs
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (1-1) 106, CHICAGO BULLS (1-1) 91
Quicken Loans Arena
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
1. You'll never hear a coach say this is a must-win game until his team is facing extinction. With that being said, this was a must-win game for the Cavaliers. They evened the series at 1-1 before heading to Chicago.
2. If LeBron James keeps attacking the basket and playing as intense as he did in Game 2, this series will be over in a hurry. The Bulls had no answer for stopping James. They had no one that could stop him. Of course, things will be more difficult in Chicago. Coach Tom Thibodeau will come up with some wrinkle to his defense.
3. Power forward Tristan Thompson just destroyed Bulls power forward Pau Gasol on the boards. He outrebounded him, 12-4, including a 6-1 edge on the offensive glass. It's important that Thompson played so well, too, since Timofey Mozgov didn't do much of anything. He ended with six points and seven rebounds and missed a dunk.
4. James wore his headband for the first time in two months. "It was time it made a comeback," James said. He wouldn't commit to wearing it in Game 3. "It's a game-time decision," he said.
5. Gasol ripped the Cavs a new one in Game 1 with his pick-and-pop jumpers. He had no impact on Game 2 with 11 points and four rebounds. Bulls center Joakim Noah is the one that has me scratching my head. He's not the same player he once was. He used to be a rim protector. Now, he operates out past the foul line. Gasol is a 7-footer, but he's a finesse player. Noah used to be a rugged player inside. I don't know what he is now. He had four points and seven rebounds in Game 2. He's averaging 2.0 points in the series thus far.
6. In case you were wondering, James is now 0 of 5 from behind the arc in this series. However, if he plays like he did tonight, you'll get no complaints from me. He was fantastic tonight and totally unguardable, certainly by Jimmy Butler. Butler is a good defender, but he couldn't physically handle James.
7. J.R. Smith will likely start at shooting guard in Game 3. That will bring some semblance to the Cavs' bench with Iman Shumpert (15 points, seven rebounds) and Matthew Dellavedova (nine points, nine assists). James Jones was great tonight (17 points, 5 of 7 3s). I don't know what to expect from him in Game 3. If he plays half as well as he did tonight, it will help the Cavs a great deal. Kendrick Perkins played 12 minutes tonight and pulled down two rebounds.
8. James (1,059) is now tied with No. 6 Tony Parker (1,059) in all-time playoff assists. No. 5 Steve Nash (1,061) and No. 4 Larry Bird (1,062) are next on the list.
8. In the 2015 postseason, the Cavs' 3-point defense is ranked second at 30.8 percent. They've allowed 95.6 points, third in the NBA. They are also first in blocks at 7.4. Mozgov is ranked fourth with 2.6 per game.
9. I believe the team that wins this series will advance to the NBA Finals.
UP NEXT: Game 3, at Chicago, Eastern Conference semifinals, United Center, Friday, May 8, 8 p.m.
SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. Mike Dunleavy (6-9, 230)
C Timofey Mozgov (7-1, 250) vs. Joakim Noah (6-11, 232)
SG Iman Shumpert (6-5, 220) vs. Jimmy Butler (6-7, 220)
Bulls - F/C Cameron Bairstow