Cavs’ Bickerstaff: ‘We’ve got young guys who are trying to figure it out’

The Cleveland Cavaliers started a three-game homestand Saturday night against the Chicago Bulls.

Coming into this game, the sixth-seeded Cavs were one game behind the fifth-seeded Bulls. 

The Cavs had a great opportunity to move up in the standings. However, Cleveland did not play very well, and they fell to the Bulls 98-94 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. The Cavs struggled for three quarters, but they cut the lead to three in the fourth; however, Chicago went on a 10-1 run to put the game away.

The Bulls(43-31) snapped a two-game losing streak with the victory.

With the loss, the Cavs(41-33) are now the seventh seed in the East as the Raptors(42-32) defeated the Pacers Saturday night. Cleveland would be involved in the Play-In Tournament if the season ended today.

Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the Bulls.

The Great for the Cavs:

-Darius Garland led all scorers with 28 points, 14 which came in the fourth quarter, to go along with six rebounds and five assists. The All-Star has scored 20-plus points in nine of the last 10 games. 

-Caris LeVert got the start against the Bulls and was solid. He had 17 points and five rebounds. Putting LeVert in the starting lineup gives Cleveland another ball-handler and someone who can put the ball in the basket.

Fourth Quarter:  Going into the fourth, Cleveland trailed 75-63, but they woke up on the offensive end. The Cavs went on a 17-8 run to cut the lead to 85-82. Garland(14) and LeVert(9) combined for 23 of Cleveland’s 31-fourth quarter points. Cleveland shot 58% from the floor, including 50%(3/6) from three-point range in the final stanza.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

First Half: Chicago dominated this game from the start, and they jumped out to a 28-16 lead after the first quarter; the Bulls pushed the lead to as much as 19 points in the second, which was their largest lead of the game. The Cavs’ offense was stagnant in the first half; they produced only 35 points, on 31% shooting from the floor, including 1/18 from downtown. The Bulls led 53-35 at the break. 

Three-Point Shooting:  Cleveland had a hard time behind the arc. They were 7/31(24%) from deep. 

Bottom Line:

The first half killed the Cavs, and they were looking up the whole game. It’s getting late for Cleveland, but with eight games left, there’s still enough time to do what they need to do, which is be one of the top six teams in the East.

They clearly miss Jarrett Allen and not just on defense. Allen was a lob threat for the Cavs and scored around the basket, which the Cavs need. Cleveland lost to the Bulls because they could not score. 

As stated numerous times, no one expected the Cavs to be in this spot, but they’re here, and they have to play better in big spots, and in the last two games against the Raptors and Bulls, Cleveland did not play well. 

Quotes:

“We’ve got young guys who are trying to figure it out, and you never figure it out until you’re in those positions,” Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff said post-game.

What’s Next:

Cleveland continues their three-game homestand Monday night against the Magic.

Best of the Rest:

-The Bulls had five starters in double figures led by Zach LaVine’s 25 points; DeMar DeRozan added 20 points, and Nikola Vucevic chipped in with 16 points and nine rebounds. 

-Lauri Markkanen had 14 points and nine rebounds. Lamar Stevens was in double figures for the fourth straight game as he had 13 points and four rebounds off the bench.

-Kevin Love made his 1,000th three Saturday night.

-The Bulls won on the road for the first time since March 9.

Watch below as Garland talks loss to Bulls:

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