Bulls 108, Cavs 106
Familiar problems surfaced in this game as the Cavs went down in a ball of flames.
Lack of intensity: You can pinpoint exactly when the Cavs started taking things seriously. It was when they looked up at the scoreboard and noticed that they were down by 21 points in the middle of the third quarter. Sure, the Bulls deserved some credit for beating the snot out of the Cavs up until that point, but prior to that, they were missing in action offensively and defensively. It took an 11-0 run to move them back into the game.
Lack of defense: The points in the paint and offensive rebounds got cleaned up, so of course the Bulls decided to bomb away as the went on to shoot 50 percent from the floor and guards Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich combined to score 58 points.
Horrible free throw shooting: The Cavs hit 20-of-31 free throws on the night for 65 percent. They lost by how many points? Repeat that. Yes, two points. Three free throws were the difference between 3-0 in the series and 2-1 in the series.
Time to panic? No, I think not. They will adjust and LeBron James alluded to as much in his post-game comments saying that the small lineup that the played primarily in the fourth quarter might have to be utilized more.
And he's not freaking out over Shaq either. Many will likely read that James said that "Shaq needs to step it up." And that may be the case, but he also acknowledged that it's tough for anyone to come back crisp after an almost eight-week layoff.
Cavs vs. Chicago Bulls Broadcast:
TV: FSOhio and TNT Radio: WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM) Starters:
Cavs: LeBron James (F); Antawn Jamison (F); Shaquille O’Neal (C); Anthony Parker (G); Mo Williams (G).
Bulls: Luol Deng: (F); Taj Gibson (F); Joakim Noah (C); Kirk Hinrich (G); Derrick Rose (G).
Officials: Monty McCutchen, Tony Brothers, Jason Phillips.
Other than a victory - which is what counts most - almost everything went wrong for the Cavs in Game 2 of their playoff series with the Bulls.
They got beat in the paint 56-58. After dominating the boards in Game 1, they were played to a draw. Although the Bulls won the all-important offensive rebounding battled 13-5 as Joakim Noah played up to his promise. And those offensive rebounds led to 21 second-chance points - not good.
This game is at the United Center and there are certain things the Bulls do better here - such as get out on the fast break. Look for the Cavs to try to minimize that as much as possible getting out on Derrick Rose, the Bulls' catalyst.
Look for the Bulls, who may have hit the Cavs with their best shot, to try to collapse more on LeBron James in the wake of his 40-point performance. For that reason, Antawn Jamison and Mo Williams should find their share of opportunities. Ditto for Anthony Parker, who the Bulls left wide open for three-point looks, daring him to hit the shots.