Overview: Led by LeBron James’ line of 37/12/11, the Cavaliers cruised to a 121-98 victory over the Chicago Bulls to take a 3-1 series lead. Antawn Jamison added 24 points for the Cavs, and Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah led the Bulls with 21 points each.
The Cavs did all the big things right in the first half. The ball moved. They had good baseline action and found their cutters. The Cavs made the extra pass and hit their open threes. They went small and LeBron was able to burn Taj Gibson a few times. LeBron was finally able to start the game setting up his teammates, getting four assists before making his first shot.
The Bulls weren’t getting what they wanted in the half-court, but kept themselves in the game by doing the little things. They killed the Cavs on the offensive boards, beating them 17-5 on the offensive glass. They looked to push the ball and were able to get out in transition. They baited the Cavs into fouling and spent a ton of time in the bonus in the second. Unlike the Cavs, they made the free throws they got in the first half. Despite soundly outplaying the Bulls, the Cavs went into halftime only leading by 10 points.
In the third quarter, the Bulls were unable to find ways to put points on the board and the Cavs were a house of fire. Everything they did worked. They hit threes and shots off the dribble. Shaq had a resounding dunk. Jamison scored 10 of his 24 in the period, doing it with jumpers, cuts, and push shots. When LeBron hit a contested half-court jumper at the end of the third to put the Cavs up by 23, things looked good.
After a few bad possessions to start the fourth, LeBron decided to check back in and put on a show. He got a rebound to complete a triple-double, set Mo up with an easy three, and then drained three consecutive threes in a row. He even banked in one of them. It was that kind of a night for LeBron. By the time LeBron checked out for good, the Cavs were up 25 with five minutes to play and it was all but over. Now the Cavs get to try and close out the series on their home floor.
-For the love of all that is holy, LeBron. Antawn Jamison all but said LeBron showed up to the arena looking like he wanted to pick up an armored car with his bare hands and use it to tear down the arena after dominating the game and before salting the ground where the arena once stood so that nothing could ever grow there again. I may be exaggerating somewhat, but that’s how LeBron played on Sunday.
This is about as close as it gets to a perfect game. His passing was on target all game and he never forced anything. He took the ball hard to the cup, took contact, and drained nine of his 10 free throws. He was the only player in the Cavs with 10 or more rebounds. (Maybe that was a problem.) He only turned it over twice, and one of those was his sleeve’s fault. He played good defense on Deng and completely locked him down a few times.
Then there was the matter of his jumper. Boy, did it look good. He had 22 points on 14 jumpers, and hit six of his nine three-point attempts. He calmly set up and drained two threes when the Bulls went under the screen. He hit a rare catch-and-shoot triple. There was also the contested half-court shot that LeBron shot like a jumper. He capped the game off with three triples in the fourth because he did not find the game of basketball sufficiently challenging at that point.
He completely dominated every aspect of the game. That’s it and that’s all. We are and have been witnessing something pretty special here. Enjoy every game.
-Jamison had a great game as well. Hit a three, got to the rim, had his midrange game working, and was feeling it with those push shots. His up-and-under finger-roll on Deng was a highlight. A game or two like this in a matchup with Boston or Orlando could easily be the difference in that series. When LeBron’s on and someone else can score an efficient 20, the Cavs are a very tall order.
-Mo Williams contributed as well, taking the ball tough to the hole a few times and draining some quick-trigger threes. He didn’t run the offense much, but with LeBron running things so effectively he really didn’t need to.
-Shaq continued to look iffy. Flat hooks, too many cheap fouls, trying to take deep post shots instead of using his feet to get closer. He did look better on defense, though. Hopefully he can get into the swing of things sooner rather than later.
-Give it up for AP. He didn’t do anything wrong, he took it to the basket a few times, and he was able to slow down Rose on the perimeter. Add that to a 2-3 performance from beyond the arc, and this was a very solid game for Parker.
-Delonte and Varejao are killing me. Delonte had some nice plays in isolation, but couldn’t find his shot and didn’t disrupt the Bulls on the perimeter. One of the two threes he missed barely qualified as an airball. Varejao continues to be completely invisible — he looked like himself when got free throws out of the pick-and-roll, but he only shot 1-4 from the line.
-Playoff Hicksomania! J.J. looked great. He attacked Brad Miller and made him look old. He found seams and went right at the basket when he got the pass. He hit is free throws when he got put on the line. He made some mistakes, but it looks like he’ll be useful in this series.
Bullets Of Randomness:
-I continue to be okay with Derrick Rose needing 20 shots to get 21 points. It is a problem when your superstar does not make threes or draw fouls. The mid-range game looks nice and he is getting points, but the Cavs can absolutely deal with Rose playing at this level.
-Oh, Kirk Hinrich. Where did it all go wrong? It looked like he’d found his game in game three, but he couldn’t even keep it going for one more game.
-Can we pretend that someone else trolled Cleveland so we can acknowledge that Joakim Noah is having a breakout series? 21/20 playoff games don’t happen every day. He’s looked like Chicago’s best player all series. Give props where they’re due.
-Whatever the benefits of LeBron’s arm sleeve have been over the years, it officially cost the team a possession on Sunday. It is a really good thing this wasn’t a close loss.
-Hey, Devin Brown!
Alright, that’s all for now. Let’s see if the Cavs can close it out in Cleveland.