Cavaliers look to get momentum back vs. Bulls in Game 2
The Cleveland Cavaliers didn't have much success slowing the Chicago Bulls' pick-and-pop game in the opener before Derrick Rose walked off holding his shoulder in the closing minute.
While Rose's latest injury isn't expected to be serious, the host Cavaliers will be seeking answers Wednesday night when they try to avoid becoming the first LeBron James-led team to drop the opening two games of a series in seven years.
Rose, playing in his first postseason since 2012 due to knee injuries, gave the Bulls a scare when he walked gingerly off the court after banging shoulders with Tristan Thompson late in Monday's 99-92 win. He said it took a few minutes to get the feeling back in his arm but he's not concerned about it moving forward.
When he wasn't finding an open Pau Gasol for one of his five assists, the 2011 MVP was creating his own shots on the way to 25 points while hitting 3 of 6 from 3-point range. He also made a 20-foot jumper to halt the Cavs' rally after they had cut an 11-point deficit to two midway through the fourth quarter.
"High pick and roll is a play a lot of teams run," Gasol told the team's official website. "With Derrick's ability and my ability to make plays for each other and make plays for others we were very effective, and let's see if we can continue to be as effective."
Cleveland isn't likely to keep dropping off Gasol in Game 2 after the All-Star center attempted nine shots with no defender within four feet - and made eight.
"We have to go back to the drawing board and see ways that we can be better with that particular play - when Pau is popping to the elbow and making those shots," James said.
James hasn't been down 0-2 in a series since the Cavs lost to Boston in the 2008 Eastern Conference semifinals. It's a good bet he'll be focused on being more efficient after shooting 9 for 22 while committing six of his team's nine turnovers in Game 1.
The four-time MVP ended up with 19 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists, but his teams fell to 41-14 in the postseason when he finishes with a double-double. It was only his fourth loss in 16 playoff meetings with Chicago.
"We all have to be better," James said. "I have to be better. I wasn't that good."
Kyrie Irving paced the short-handed Cavaliers on Monday with 30 points. Iman Shumpert added 22 while starting in place of J.R Smith, who is suspended one more game for striking Jae Crowder during the first-round series with Boston.
Kevin Love is done for the postseason after undergoing shoulder surgery last week. Mike Miller started in Love's place and scored three points in 16 minutes - Cleveland was outscored by 20 with him on the floor - and coach David Blatt said he's considering a lineup change for Game 2.
Without two of their top shooters, the Cavs went just 7 for 26 from beyond the arc after making an East-best 39.6 percent from long range in the final two months of the season. They also allowed Chicago to sink 10 of 18 from 3-point range.
"Coming in, we knew what the circumstances were," Blatt said. "We knew what we were looking at but we had to go through it to learn from it. Now we have and hopefully we come out a lot better."
That isn't likely to be easy facing a Chicago team that is limiting foes to 89.0 points on 39.2 percent shooting in the playoffs. In addition to playing solid defense on James in Game 1, Jimmy Butler is averaging a team-high 24.1 points in the postseason.
Chicago, however, is taking its victory in stride since it won the opener against James-led Miami teams in 2011 and 2013 - when it played without Rose - before dropping the next four in each series.
"You can't get wrapped up in it," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We're going to have to play a lot better in the next game."