5 Takeaways From The Cavs/Bulls Game That Predict The Rest Of The Season
The Chicago Bulls came out on top Thursday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers in convincing fashion, winning 113-98.
While this may only be a regular season game right before the All-Star break (with 28 games left in the schedule), the Thursday night game remained riddled with playoff implications for an Eastern Conference growing in competition.
These are the top five takeaways from last night’s game to shed some insight on what we can expect from the rest of the season.
The Bulls Are Still A Force
The Bulls, third in the Eastern Conference standings (33-20), came into their game with the Cavs risking not only their rank with a loss to the Cavaliers (33-21), but also their hold as the leader of the Central Division.
Both Chicago and Cleveland have had identical numbers statistically, both averaging (102 PPG) and allowing (99 PPG) per game, and both on winnings streaks of at least two games.
But, it has been the Cavs who have had late wins in the last two meetings against the Bulls, both of which they were outscored by 20 points and out-rebounded a staggering 106-82.
With a win last night, the Bulls proved they are still a force to be reckoned with in the east and the path to the Eastern Conference finals must still come through them.
The Bulls Got The Rose Thing Right
The scrutiny Derrick Rose has been under this season has been often public and hard.
The former MVP has had high expectations placed on him this year after sitting out last year’s playoffs after being cleared to play, and faced even more criticism when he decided to rest and take his time in rehabbing himself back to health with the statement:
“It’s not about this year.”
But, with the rest and time off he has had, it seems as though it may.
Derrick Rose scored 30 points after putting up 19 in the past two meetings against the Cavaliers.
He looks as well as he ever has, going coast to coast, scoring on floaters, dunks, reverse layups and mid-range jumpers. At one point in the third quarter, the crowd gave him a standing ovation and chants of "M-V-P," showing admiration for the Derrick they grew accustomed to seeing pre-injury.
Whether Derrick Rose can still be Derrick Rose is a question that may still linger on everyone’s mind, as it is important to have a superstar on any championship-aspiring team.
No matter how many questions people have, however, the Bulls have all the answers.
The Wild Wild East
If this game taught us anything, it's that the east is up for grabs.
Yes, the Atlanta Hawks have a 10-game lead in the Eastern Conference, but the second, third, fourth and fifth are all separated by less than four games.
Teams like the Cavs, Bulls, Wizards and Raptors all have a shot at making a run in the playoffs and all have the health and chemistry to make a run for the conference title.
LeBron is an MVP Candidate
Since LeBron’s two-week injury/vacation, he has been back to top tier form. He’s been averaging over 30 points a game and shooting over 50 percent from the field.
The crazy thing is he’s only going to get better. MVP talks of James Harden and Stephen Curry are great, but it is clear Lebron is the one who makes the Cavaliers go. They went 1-7 without him, and went on a 12-game winning streak when he returned.
If the Cavs make a push to be in the top three in the Eastern Conference finals, it would be a hard case not to vote LeBron as your MVP.
Coach Thibodeau’s madness works
Coach Thibs is often under fire for his stringent coaching rituals. He has been accused of running his players into the ground, overworking them and scheduling them too many practices.
His methods have had him in a hot seat this season and brought rumors of tension in the locker room.
Through it all, the Bulls are still third in the east and got their much-desired revenge over the Cavaliers. Though tough, Thibodeau’s madness may work after all.