Cleveland Cavaliers 4 - 2 Chicago Bulls | 2015 NBA Playoffs
Entering Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, the Cavs were down two games to one against their central division foes, the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls took Game 1 as the Cavs were adjusting to their new lineup with two starters out of action. Then, the Cavs won handily in Game 2. Game 3 was tight throughout the entire contest and ended in devastating fashion as Bulls point guard Derrick Rose banked in a buzzer-beating three for the win. The following game turned out to be even more exciting, especially for Cleveland fans.
The game started out slow with each team struggling to find their offensive rhythm. There were stretches when shots started to fall and it seemed like the prolific offenses of this duo of teams would start to show. However, the all-around struggles with ball control and efficiency continued as neither squad shot over 39 percent for the contest. Even LeBron could not escape as he committed eight turnovers and made just 10 of 30 from the field. But, he was able to make huge contributions in other areas with 14 rebounds, 8 assists, and 2 blocks. Plus, by no measure did he have a bad scoring night as he was able to compile 25 points by the final buzzer. This game, like the last, was a tight one with Cleveland holding only a four point lead at the break. The night was comprised of numerous runs by each team, but neither could run away with a lead. The Cavs endured a rough third quarter. First, LeBron rolled his ankle and the winds in the windy city died down as they were dragged toward the east due to the collective gasp of a state over 300 miles away. Thankfully, James was able to play through it. "I wasn't coming out. I can't afford to come out, not only because of the position that our team is in but because of who I am as a leader of this team. I was going to fight through it no matter what. That's why we have a great training staff,” he said about the injury. The Cavs were able to spark a comeback and eventually retain the lead in the final minutes. Never the less, the advantage disappeared as fast as it was attained. As Jimmy Butler drained a three and Derrick Rose got a layup to tie the game, fans started having flashbacks to Game 3. Suddenly, LeBron channeled his clutch gene and went to work. With the look of a lion on the hunt he set about his mission to win the game. In a flash, LeBron performed a V-cut on the baseline and dashed to the left corner. He received the ball and threw up a deep two. In what seemed like an eternity the ball rotated towards the hoop in complete silence… Swish. Nothing but net. 86-84 Cavs victory. LeBron was mauled by his teammates against the scorer’s table after his only made three of the night.
LeBron and Cavs Advance to Eastern Conference Finals
Game 5 was a drastic turnaround for the Cavalier offense. They collectively shot a fantastic 50.6% from the field and enjoyed two huge performances from LeBron and Kyrie, scoring 38 and 25 points respectively. James was on a personal vendetta from tip-off. He knew just how important winning this game and taking control of the series was. The kid from Akron exploded for 12 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, and 3 blocks to complement his 38 points. The stat that he was most proud of, though, was the fact that he did not have one turnover in the entire 41 minutes he played. James was excited after the game when he realized this, as he has openly admitted to struggling with turnovers sometimes. During postgame media availability he joked, “Yay, no turnovers! That was the first stat I was looking at after the game. I was trying to be efficient for my teammates, and I was very efficient.” In the contest James joined Shaquille O'Neal (2000) and Larry Bird (1986) as the only players with at least 35 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 0 turnovers in a playoff game since 1977-78.
Cleveland Cavaliers Clinch Series
Game 6 served as the Cavs’ golden opportunity to close out the crazy series that it had been between them and the Bulls. Above all, Game 6 was a signature game for the Cavs’ role players and reserves. With Kyrie down after re-aggravating the tendinitis in his left knee and LeBron experiencing shooting struggles once more, Tristan Thompson contributed 13 points and 17 rebounds, Iman Shumpert produced 13 points, and J.R. Smith had 12 with three 3-pointers. Matthew Dellevadova, otherwise known as “Delly”, was the star of the night, though, with 19 points on 7 of 11 shooting with three 3’s on 50% from beyond the arc. As always, even though LeBron had just 15 points he made up for it by flirting with a triple-double. He finished the game with 11 assists and 9 rebounds.
This will be LeBron’s fifth straight Conference Finals. Of which he said, “I do everything for my team, do everything for my teammates. I want these guys to be able to feel this moment. That's what I came back here for. I've got four guys that never made the postseason that played a huge role on this team.” The Cavaliers will face the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals starting on Wednesday, May 20, 2015 on TNT.
Videos Courtesy of NBA.com & YouTube/NBA