Game 80: Chicago Bulls (40-40) defeat Cleveland Cavaliers (56-24), 105-102
April 9, 2016
United Center – Chicago
The Bulls’ chances of playing in postseason are still alive thanks to their win over the Cavaliers on Saturday night, but it didn’t come easy.
If it weren’t for the Bulls’ bench, their playoffs hope may have ended Saturday.
In the first quarter, the Bulls’ starters got off to a slow start, trailing the Cavaliers by as many as 10 points. But they eventually got their offense going and did enough to hang around the Cavaliers without getting completely blown out.
When Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg put an entire bench lineup in the game, 1:19 remained in the first quarter, and the Bulls were down nine. But the second unit went on a 5-0 run to close the quarter. They then carried that momentum to open the second quarter and eventually take the 35-33 lead after a bucket by Cristiano Felicio.
The lead was short-lived, though. Channing Frye 3-pointers sandwiched a Kyrie Irving layup, giving the Cavaliers the 41-37 lead.
From there, the Bulls fell behind with their starters back in the game. In fact, their starters could never really get going. The Bulls trailed by 11 in the third quarter with their starters, but the bench, along with Jimmy Butler got them back into the game.
The Bulls trailed 82-79 coming into the fourth quarter, but Doug McDermott quickly tied the game with a 3-pointer. He and Justin Holiday then got going a bit to bring the Bulls’ lead to five points. Then, Aaron Brooks and Felicio found shots of their own to give the Bulls the 11-point lead the forced a Cavaliers timeout.
The Cavaliers attempted a comeback, but the Bulls held them off enough from making it a successful one.
Player of the Game
The Brazilian big man was the team’s second-leading scorer with 16 points, trailing only Butler’s 21 points. He was a perfect 7-for-7 from the field and 2-of-2 from the charity stripe in 23 minutes.
Felicio also added five rebounds, one assist and two blocks, a team-high, and closed the game.
The Bulls’ bench absolutely annihilated the Cavaliers’ bench. All of the Bulls’ bench players scored at least six points, but Felicio was the only one to score in double figures. Aaron Brooks followed with nine points, though.
Of the four Cavaliers’ bench players to get minutes, three of them scored. Channing Frye led with six points in 15 minutes. Matthew Dellavedova played the most minutes out of the Cavaliers’ second unit but only made a 3-pointer.
The Bulls struggled from the 3-point line yet again, making only eight of their 25 attempts. Nikola Mirotic made the most threes out of any Bull with three makes.
The Cavaliers, on the other hand, made twice as many threes, 15 of which came from their starters. That alone outdid the Bulls.
The Bulls are back in action Monday night and will face the New Orleans Pelicans at 7 p.m. central.
Ashley is the owner/editor of The Bulls Charge. Follow her on Twitter at @wijangco12.