This weekend the Bulls and Cavs sunk each other’s respective fanbases with buzzer beaters, and now the pseudo Eastern Conference Finals is knotted at two games a piece with Cleveland regaining home court advantage in the best of seven series. On Friday Night Derrick Rose scored the last three of his thirty points on a bank shot from well beyond the three point arc giving Chicago a 99-96 victory and a then 2-1 series lead. Chicago would hold on to home court advantage for less than 48-hours because around 5PM local time yesterday Lebron James would nail a fadeaway jumper on an inbound pass to give Cleveland control of the series at 86-84.
Now while Chicago is far from done in this series, yesterday was their biggest chance to get themselves to the next round. Pau Gasol could’ve rested in Game 5 knowing the Bulls would be able to wrap it up on Thursday back at the United Center. Gasol didn’t play yesterday and his absence was felt on the offensive side. Gasol is unlikely again tomorrow night with an ailing left hamstring and the Bulls need to figure out a way to win in Cleveland without him. Gasol has been a big difference in the offense effectiveness for Chicago in this series and not having him in the lineup for the last game showed. In addition there’s no reason to believe it won’t have an impact again tomorrow.
Other than Gasol’s absence the Bulls have been very good in this series. Chicago’s taken advantage of the absence of Kevin Love and Derrick Rose has been unbelievable averaging 25PPG which has really answered Lebron’s output. James made a big impact on Game 2 in the series, but other than that he’s been very quiet in the series until yesterday’s buzzer beater. Lebron didn’t play well yesterday afternoon having eight turnovers on 10/30 shooting from the floor. Lebron was just 1/7 from beyond the three point line and Kyrie Irving didn’t help much either going 2/10 from the floor with just 12 points, eight of which came from the line.
For the Bulls it’s an big uphill battle from here on in the series. They need to win at least one game back in Cleveland and expect Lebron James to go off tomorrow night to help put aside his poor performance masked by a game winner. Pau Gasol doesn’t look like he’ll be active for tomorrow and the Bulls could be without Taj Gibson as well which would really diminish the front court. The Bulls got some very generous calls yesterday and they still couldn’t get the game into overtime to give themselves a chance. Cleveland Coach David Blatt almost gave the game away with a Chris Webber move that could’ve given Chicago a free throw and possession after Derrick Rose’s game tying layup. Cleveland was saved by an assistant and then given a free timeout on a bogus review of possession and clock review. The hill is steep but never count out Derrick Rose coming to the rescue and bringing Chicago home up 3-2. Stranger things have happened in sports.