The Cleveland Cavaliers (6-8) lost to the Chicago Bulls (14-3), who still, after tonight, boast the NBA’s best record. They managed to drop 114 points on the Cavalier defense as the Bulls held the helpless Cavs to 75 points and their most embarrassing loss of the season.
Impressive enough that the Bulls lead the league in fewest points allowed per game, only letting up an average of 85.8 points per game. Only one team has scored less against the Bulls this year (The Atlanta Hawks with 74 on January 3). I can tell you three reasons why things didn’t go right at the Q tonight.
1. Kyrie Irving played 22 minutes today, not even a full half. He logged in 13 points at the half and also finished the game with 13 points. I don’t know if C.J. Watson was bothering Irving that much in the second half, but there’s definitely a coaching mistake present when our star rookie is only playing 22 minutes against the best team in the NBA
2. The Cavs winning habits this season is almost synonymous with Antawn Jamison game-by-game performance at this point in the season. The three biggest opponents, in my opinion, that we have faced this year have been the Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls. In those games Jamison has scored three, nine and four respectively. Those are the only times that Jamison has been held under 10 all season.
3. We only put two players in double digits (Irving and Anderson Varejao) compared to the Bulls who had five (Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, Richard Hamilton, Watson and Kyle Korver who came off the bench). What the Cavaliers don’t have, that other teams are striving off of, is depth. The Bulls, without their star guard Derrick Rose, managed to score 114 points.
Our depth problem cannot be fixed at the moment. Depth in a team takes many seasons to develop, and it starts with Irving. In a game where the Cavaliers wanted to prove that they can compete, or at least keep up, with the best teams in the league, our star player should have seen some more minutes.
Another problem that I had with tonight’s game was the fan performance. You let Boozer, whose leaving Cleveland only ranks behind LeBron James, and Joakim Noah, who basically called Cleveland a dumpster, have their way. Where was the heckling? The emotion in the Q was sucked out well before the first quarter ended.
I still thought the Cavs had a chance at the end of the first quarter too. The hustle was lacking, there were turnovers on consecutive possessions many times and Varejao was the only player who made an attempt at a rebound.
And of course, Byron Scott ended the first quarter and started the second quarter with Daniel Gibson and Ramon Sessions in the lineup. This is part of the reason why the Cavs always start the second quarter out flat. The Bulls ended the half up 19, Cleveland’s biggest deficit all season.
And from there the Bulls looked like the team with the best record in the NBA. Chicago held Cleveland to 18 points in the second, 17 points in the third and a dismal 14 points in the fourth quarter. The Bulls were up by 40 at one point and ended up winning by a margin of 39, the Cavs most lopsided loss all season.
There was really nothing to be happy with concerning Cleveland’s performance tonight. The Atlanta Hawks will be hosting the Cavs tonight. Let’s see how the team responds.