How the Bulls Can Win This Series
*Photo via AP
The Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers met four times in the regular season with the Cavs winning three of those meetings. However, they did not face the Bulls’ full roster once during the regular season. Now the Cavs are without Kevin Love for the remainder of the playoffs, and without suspended J.R. Smith for the first two games of the series.
This does give the Bulls an advantage, but by no means does this mean the Bulls will walk away with the series. This is what Chicago needs to do in order to win the series:
1. Reduce Cleveland’s Second Chance Opportunities
The Bulls were completely owned at the rim in the regular season by Tristan Thompson. Back on January 19, the Bulls went to Cleveland and lost because they were out-rebounded 54 to 40, while allowing the Cavs 20 offensive rebounds. They were also outscored in the paint during that game 46 to 30. If the Bulls are going to beat the Cavs, they have to out-rebound Cleveland and reduce their second chance opportunities.
2. The Bulls Have to Contain LeBron James Defensively
This is easier said than done. The Bulls need to do whatever they can to keep James out of the paint and force him into jump shots. James is without two key three-point shooters for the first two games (before getting Smith back for game three), so he will be in attack mode, and the Bulls need to be ready.
3. Derrick Rose Needs to Be Attacking The Rim
Rose has shown flashes of the 2011 MVP he once was since returning from knee surgery. The Bulls won the first three games against the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs in part by great play from Rose attacking the rim. He played efficient and had a great deal of assists during those games.
The Bulls struggled in games four and five against the Bucks because the Bucks contained Rose and limited him to mainly jump shots. In game five of the series, Rose was zero of seven from beyond the arc in a 94-88 loss. The Bulls need Rose to be the facilitator on offense attacking the rim.
4. Bulls Need to Limit Turnovers
The Bulls had numerous turnovers against the Bucks in the games that they lost. They lost game four by only two points, and they committed 28 turnovers in that game. If they commit 28 turnovers against the Cavs, it won’t be a two-point loss to a team of their caliber. The Bulls have to reduce the amount of turnovers they committed against the Bucks going forward in the playoffs to make a title run.
5. The Bulls Have to Remain Healthy
The Bulls already have a leg up on the Cavs because the Cavs are without Kevin Love for the remainder of the playoffs. An injury to the Bulls would be devastating for their chances of winning the NBA Finals. This is the first time the Bulls are facing the Cavs with their full team all season long, and they need to keep it that way to advance onto the Eastern Conference Finals.
These are the Bulls keys to victory against the Cavs. This is the series that everyone wanted to see as a playoff matchup back in October. The Bulls have shown, when healthy, that they are a force to be reckoned with. They have the tools and players to defeat the Cavs.
Bulls at Cavs Monday Night at 7:00 pm EST on TNT