Bulls - Cavaliers
In the Boston series, when Lebron James was asked whether Game 1 was a feeler game, he responded, "definitely". So maybe Game 1 of this series was also a feeler game? He also told the media that he shoulders the blame for their performance Monday night, so he should come out with a vengeance. Some notes:
- Last game, Cleveland shot ... poorly. 26.9% from deep. You can disregard that as an off-night, but they aren't exactly stacked with sharpshooters. Kevin Love spread the floor for them, and his absence is felt in at least that regard. Kyrie Irving is their best 3-pt shooter, followed by LeBron? And then Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith (still serving a suspension). Chicago has some good perimeter defenders, between Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose, and Kirk Hinrich. Might not have been that much of a fluke.
- Exasperation and championship windows: The Bulls rank highly in this category. After an onslaught of unfortunate injuries to Rose, it feels like this could finally be their window. There are rumblings about Tom Thibodeau's time as the head coach coming to an end.
- Joakim Noah struggled in the Milwaukee series. The Bucks play small, and he doesn't match up well against small lineups. This series will likely be at least a little better for him.
- Tristan Thompson is expected to start for the Cavaliers tonight.
Clippers - Rockets
Chris Paul is listed as doubtful for tonight's matchup, so Austin Rivers will continue to show us which plays he's capable of running - specifically the ones that CP3 can't run. Still can't believe he'd say that... Some notes from Game 1:
- The Clippers are used to high-level execution after the Spurs series.
- The Clippers are rallying as a team after such an inspiring Game 7 last week: all starting five players have been really impressive, and the bench, while even more shallow with Austin as a starter, plays with good energy (how do you do that Glen Davis?).
- Houston stunned the NBA and fans everywhere with an especially poor performance. Their mental toughness was questioned, and this will be a statement game for them.
- DeAndre Jordan is an incredible free throw liability, and it's not just Pop that's going to resort to hack strategies. At 40.5% in the postseason (39.7% regular season), a coach can reduce the Clippers' scoring from their average 1.098 points/possession, to a meager 0.810 points/possession, simply by fouling DeAndre.
- Chicago Bulls vs. Cleveland Cavaliers, 4 p.m. PST (TNT)
- Los Angeles Clippers vs. Houston Rockets, 6:30 p.m. PST (TNT)