Game 6: Cavs at Bulls
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (4-2) 94, CHICAGO BULLS (2-4) 73
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
1. The Big Three was reduced to the Chosen One tonight. Despite another player going down with an injury, the Cavaliers prevailed in the Eastern Conference semifinals, 4-2, over the Bulls. Cavs guard Kyrie Irving suffered a left knee injury in the second quarter and didn't return. Of course, they didn't need him in this game, as they blew out the lackluster Bulls.
2. Irving stepped on teammate Tristan Thompson's foot, which caused him to land off balance. He immediately fell to the floor. He came out with 9:47 left in the first half and didn't return. He finished with just six points, one rebound and one block. He didn't have an assist in two of the final three games of the series. The Cavs outscored Chicago after he went out, 59-38. He probably could have returned, if needed.
3. The East finals don't start until Wednesday, May 20. Game 1 will be either in Cleveland or Atlanta. We'll have to see who wins the other semifinal series. The Hawks currently lead the series, 3-2. Irving and the other banged up players will have plenty of time to rest up.
4. LeBron James' numbers in this series were crazy: 26.2 points, 11.0 rebounds, 8.8 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.7 blocks. He tied No. 5 Tim Duncan (1,202) in all-time playoff free throws. He moved past No. 2 Zydrunas Ilgauskas (82) for postseason blocked shots in Cavs' history.
5. The Boston series was very physical. The teams took that physical play a step further in the second round. Players were dropping all over the court. Hopefully, the Cavs will have plenty in the tank for the conference finals.
6. Center Timofey Mozgov had seven points, all in the first quarter. He added five rebounds and a block. He was a tad better than in Game 5. Mozgov is needed to protect the rim. He needs to defend and he needs to rebound. Remember, the team that won the rebounding battle has won every game in this series.
7. Speaking of rebounding, the Cavs embarrassed Chicago on the boards, 53-32. That's ridiculous. Tristan Thompson was like a man possessed with 13 points, 17 rebounds and two blocks. No one on the Bulls could handle him on the block. That man is going to make a lot of money this summer when he becomes a restricted free agent.
8. I thought Coach David Blatt would go back to J.R. Smith in Game 5. He continues to start Iman Shumpert at shooting guard. Heck, both play in crunch time. The plan was to start Shump when they made the trade with New York, but he was still recovering from his shoulder injury. Smith stepped in and ran away with the job. Now, Blatt evidently likes what he's getting out of Shump as a starter. Bringing Smith off the bench gives him some legitimate firepower and perimeter shooting. Once Smith gets hot, he's unconscious. Shump finished with 13 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and one block. He was outstanding in the entire series.
9. They needed help off the bench tonight and they sure received it from unsung hero Matthew Dellavedova. He scored a team-high 19 points. He's been giving the Cavs good minutes with his defense, playmaking and rugged play. Tonight it was his scoring. James Jones is a wildcard. Blatt doesn't know what he's going to get from him from game to game. If he can make a few shots, it helps out immensely. He drained three 3-pointers when the game was still close tonight.
10. This will be the fifth trip to the conference finals in franchise history. The others came in 1976, 1992, 2007 and 2009.
11. The Cavs beat the Bulls at their own game in the series. How good was the Cavs' defense? In the last five games of the series, the Bulls averaged 89.6 points and shot 38.2 percent from the field (162 of 424). The Bulls shot under 40 percent in each of the last four games of the series, including 37.5 percent tonight. The Cavs are second in the league in postseason defense, allowing just 41.2 percent shooting. The Bulls are known for their rugged defense under Coach Tom Thibodeau, who might have coached his last game as Chicago's coach.
UP NEXT: Game 1, vs. Atlanta or Washington, Eastern Conference finals, TBD, Wednesday, May 20, 8:30 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