Chicago Bulls at Cleveland Cavaliers
In my Game 1 preview post, I mentioned an important part about the Bulls rallying behind their young superstar’s guarantee of a playoff berth, that support was non-existent in the opening game of the series. Outside of Joakim Noah, no Bull was able to be effective on both ends of the floor to help out Rose. Particularly, Luol Deng needs to step up his game on the offensive end, I understand most of his energy is being spent trying to contain the league’s best player in King James but 5-15 FG & 2-5 FT just won’t cut it. Deng’s offensive production is the deciding factor in whether or not the Bulls can keep this series reasonably interesting. In all reality, Game 1 was much closer than expected and the game turned out to be one worth watching until the final buzzer. Eliminate the Cavaliers strong first quarter and the Bulls actually beat the Cavaliers by 1 point when tallying up the remaining three quarters. Not saying the Bulls are going to have even the slightest chance to win this series but it’s definitely something worth consideration. As we prepare for Game 2 there’s three points I’d like to propose that should make this matchup appealing for you to tune into on your Monday night.
- Shaquille O’Neal: Does he really positively affect the Cavaliers? Shaq’s effectiveness out on the floor is something worth grading yourself. To me in Game 1 he clogged the lanes on offense and his defensive transitioning is terrible which encourages Derrick Rose (one of the league’s fastest guards) to push the ball in transition. Which leads me to my next point.
- Derrick Rose: Without a real shooting guard or a real post presence on offense, Rose is a dazzling one-man show. In Game 1, Rose took full advantage of transition opportunities in which allows his unmatched athleticism (at the point guard position) to be put on display. The speed, quickness, agility, balance, poise, explosiveness, handles, touch, and demeanor are all reason to watch Derrick Rose. The young superstar didn’t disappoint in the opening match.
- Cavaliers Chemistry: I feel it’s always worthy to tune into the league’s most prime candidate to win it all. Why not watch how they’ll set the tone for the rest of the series and for the remainder of the playoffs? This is a significant time for the Cavaliers group to put it all together. Big time teams, can make adjustments on the fly in big time situations. NBA fans should be interested in watching the chemistry come together.
Cavaliers- 104 Bulls- 91
Utah Jazz at Denver Nuggets
Losing Mehmet Okur for the remainder of the playoffs, leaves a huge hole at the center position. Without Kirlenko and Boozer already playing through a rib injury the Jazz look to be in a world of trouble down low. Paul Millsap will be relied upon heavily and will be the key to the Jazz chances of advancing. Millsap must be able to play 35-40 minutes a night and do so while avoiding foul trouble. The Nuggets would be foolish not to attack the basket early looking to go inside early and often to Kenyon Martin and Nene Hilario. If the Nuggets can remain patient before getting to trigger-happy with that long-range three ball, they can close out this series quicker than they expected. For the Jazz success, it’s hard to ask much more from star guard Deron Williams so they expectation is directly pointed towards his wing companions (Matthews, Miles, Korver). If Wesley Matthews can figure out how to contain Carmelo Anthony (who dropped 42 in Game 1), the Jazz should give more time to Kyle Korver. The Jazz must rely upon more perimeter shooting in order to preserve their big men down low and keep them out of foul trouble. Jazz looked to be in some more trouble come Game 2.
Nuggets- 117 Jazz- 102