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:

Cavs go home to regroup after falling to Chicago Saturday night

The Cleveland Cavaliers headed to Chicago to face the Bulls Saturday night in the second half of a back-to-back after falling to the Heat Friday night.

The Cavs have been without Caris LeVert(foot) and Jarrett Allen(finger), and they came in even more depleted as Lauri Markkanen missed Saturday’s game after re-aggravating an ankle injury Friday night.

Cleveland trailed by double digits at halftime, and Chicago had their largest lead of 18 points in the fourth and would win 101-91 at United Center.

The Cavs finished their three-game road trip 1-2. 

The Cavs(38-29) have now lost two straight and eight of their last 11. Chicago(41-26) has won two in a row.

The Great for the Cavs:

-After a slow shooting start(2-12 in the first half), Darius Garland finished strong. He scored 19 of his 25 points in the second half, including nine in the fourth. He also added seven rebounds and seven assists in 42 minutes of action. Once you become an All-Star, defenses will start to show you more attention, and Garland is getting a lot of attention from opposing defenses.

-Evan Mobley got his third consecutive start at center and, again, played well. Mobley had 17 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks. This was Mobley’s four straight game in double figures.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

Second Quarter:  Things fell apart for Cleveland in the second. They were down 24-22 after one quarter, but their shots did not fall in the second as they were 9/26 from the floor, including 1/11 from downtown. Chicago went on a 15-5 run to start the second and took a 12-point lead, and they led by as many as 13 in the quarter. 

After a DeMar DeRozan jumper at the buzzer, Chicago took a 53-42 lead into the break. Cleveland cut the lead to nine on two occasions in the second half, but they never really threatened after the second quarter.

Three-Point Shooting:  According to Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, Cleveland got good looks from three-point range, but they could not make shots. Cleveland finished 5/24(21%) from deep. Cedi Osman struggled the most as he was 1/8 from downtown.

Turnovers: The Cavs had 18 turnovers against the Heat Friday night and turned the ball over 14 times against the Bulls. That’s 32 turnovers in two games. It’s tough to win against the better teams in the league when you’re turning the ball over at that rate. Garland led the way with six turnovers.

Bottom Line: 

The Bottom Line, it’s time for the Cavs to get home and regroup. Without some of their key players, it’s not surprising that Cleveland lost to the Heat and Bulls on the road. They did battle, but they just did not have enough.

Fortunately for the Cavs, they get to go home for five straight and eight of their next nine, so that’s an opportunity for them to possibly solidify that six spot in the East and avoid the Play-In Tournament.

As for the standings, things are starting to tighten up for that sixth spot in the East. The seventh-seeded Raptors(37-30) have won three straight and are now one game behind the Cavs for the sixth seed. Remember, only the top six teams in each conference are guaranteed a playoff spot. 

What’s Next:

Cleveland begins a five-game homestand starting Monday night against the Clippers.

Best of the Rest:

-DeRozan led the Bulls with 25 points; Nikola Vucevic chipped in with 20 points and 14 rebounds, Ayo Dosunmu added 17 points.

-Kevin Love, who started for Markkanen, had 10 points and 11 rebounds. Osman added 14 points off the bench.

-Rajon Rondo left in the third quarter and did not return after rolling his ankle. 

Watch below as Kevin Love talks loss to Bulls:

 

 

 

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on win over Bulls: ‘We really wanted to get this win’

The Cavaliers were looking to snap a two-game losing streak when they faced the Bulls Wednesday night at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, and they got a little break as Chicago’s DeMar DeRozan, who’s the team’s leading scorer, missed his second straight game due to health and safety protocols. In addition, the Bulls were without Coby White, Matt Thomas, and Javonte Green(health and safety protocols). They were also without Alex Caruso(hamstring).

Cleveland pretty much led from start to finish and led by as many as 26 points in this one. Ultimately, they routed the Bulls 115-92. The Cavaliers led by nine at the break and busted things open in the third to take an 82-66 lead into the fourth.

The Cavaliers(14-12) are now 5-2 in their last seven games and snapped Chicago’s(17-9) four-game winning streak.

Here is the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ win over Chicago.

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-After a subpar performance against Milwaukee, Darius Garland got it done for the Cavs Wednesday night. Garland had a game-high 24 points to go along with six assists. Coming into this game, Garland is one of three NBA players(Trae Young and Russell Westbrook) averaging 19.0-plus points on .450-plus FG% and 7.0-plus assists per contest.

-Rookie Evan Mobley had another stellar performance for Cleveland. Mobley scored 16 points, grabbed nine rebounds, and a game and career-high five blocks and two steals. The five blocks are the most for a Cavs’ rookie since LeBron James. According to Elias Sports, Mobley is the first NBA rookie to have a game of at least 16 points, nine rebounds, five blocks, two steals, and a .727 FG% in over 30 years. Wow! 

-Jarrett Allen’s career-high seven-game double-double streak was snapped Monday night against Milwaukee, and now it’s time to start a new one. Allen recorded a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds Wednesday night. 

Defense: Cleveland held Chicago to 27% from three-point range and forced 18 Bulls’ turnovers. The Cavaliers held another team under 100 points for the 11th time this season. 

The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

It was all great for the Cavs Wednesday night. No issues, no problems.

Bottom Line:

After 26 games, Cleveland had the toughest schedule in the NBA. After Wednesday’s victory over Chicago, the Cavs have won 10 games versus teams with .500-plus records this season, and what makes that number even more impressive is this team has battled injuries, so to be 14-12 after 26 games, with such a demanding schedule, is a win for the Cavs.

“We really wanted to get this win, and we had to put some pressure on them,” Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff said after the game. “Evan led the way with that, which is good because we want him to be aggressive.”

What’s Next:

Cleveland heads back on the road to battle the Minnesota Timberwolves Friday night.

Best of the Rest:

-Cleveland has six players in double figures. Lauri Markkanen added 14 points, Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio had 11 points off the Cavs’ bench. Rubio also added a game-high nine assists. The Cavs’ bench outscored the Bulls’ bench 39-16.

-Zach LaVine led Chicago with 23 points, Lonzo Ball had 19 points and seven assists, and Nikola Vucevic added 18 points, 12 rebounds, and two blocks.

Watch below as Mobley, Garland, and Markkanen react to Cleveland’s win over the Bulls:

“The Last Dance” was not good to Scottie Pippen(VIDEO)

“The Last Dance” documentary was fun, exciting, and riveting television. The documentary chronicled Michael Jordan and the Bulls’ Dynasty.

While Jordan looked reasonably good in the documentary, not everybody came out unscathed, especially Scottie Pippen. The Hall of Famer had some bad moments in the documentary. Whether it was Pippen getting surgery right before the 1997-98 season because he did not want to mess up his summer, or Pippen sitting out the final play against New York in the 1994 playoffs because the play was not called for him, Pippen did not look good.

Also, his contract was discussed in the documentary. He signed a below-market value deal back in 1991, and unfortunately for Pippen, the Bulls would not renegotiate his contract.

Now, reportedly, Pippen is upset about the documentary. We examine how Pippen looked in the documentary:

 

 

Victor Oladipo believes Scottie Pippen was not a superstar

Scottie Pippen had an amazing career, but he always was the number two guy in Chicago behind Michael Jordan. While Pippen is a Hall of Famer, 6x NBA champion, and was named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history; he never really got out of the shadows of Jordan.

One guy who does not think Pippen was a superstar is Pacers G Victor Oladipo.

Here is what Oladipo told The Breakfast Club on Power 105.1 in New York on Tuesday:

Does Oladipo have a point? Pippen did not win without Jordan, but Jordan did not win without Pippen. Furthermore, Pippen was a great two-way player. Superstar? Questionable. A great player? No doubt!

 

Bulls’ Justin Holiday: ‘I believe we can get to the playoffs’

The Chicago Bulls are going to look very different next season. Gone are Jimmy Butler and Rajon Rondo.  Now, the Bulls are going young. Although Dwyane Wade is there, for now, the Bulls core is young. Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and rookie Lauri Markkanen, who all came from the Butler deal with Minnesota, are some of the young players Chicago will turn to next season.

In free agency, the Bulls brought in former Knicks forward Justin Holiday.  Holiday, who played in Chicago two seasons ago, believes that the Bulls can make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference:

“I believe we can get to the playoffs regardless of what everybody thinks from the outside the first thing is believing you can do something,” Holiday told the Go4it podcast with host Paul Gant. “If you ask people before I got into the NBA if they thought I could get into the NBA, they would probably say no, but I believe I could and I am here.

“So, I do think that’s possible. It might seem like a long shot to everybody else, but again, just because we are young, and people might not know what are young players can do. That’s just you not knowing. I think we still have a chance, and I think we gonna to do the best thing we can to put this team together; getting us playing as a team, being strong mentally, and getting that going early, and see what happens.”

While the Eastern Conference is weak, the Bulls probably don’t have enough talent to be one of the top eight teams in the conference.

However, anything can happen!

 

 

Ex-NBA player Ron Harper on Kyrie Irving’s trade request: ‘Youth and ignorance’

Former NBA star Ron Harper, who is a 5x NBA champion with the Bulls and Lakers, called Kyrie Irving’s trade request a byproduct of “youth” and “ignorance.”

Harper told the Akron Beacon Journal the following:

“When I used to play on bad teams and you trained all off-season to play 82 games, you get to the first round and you lose. You’re guaranteed to play till June. The East is good, but you know that you’re the best basketball team. I don’t really understand what’s behind it,” Harper said.

Harper does not understand why Irving would want to have a bigger role elsewhere when he is winning in Cleveland:

“It’s never your team. You play for the front of your jersey, your name is on the back of it. When you get a chance to win and a chance to be on a good basketball team, you have to take that opportunity. That opportunity doesn’t come around all the time. You’re on a team that’s been to the NBA Finals the last three seasons. How many guys get there? How many guys would kill to be him? If you go talk to most superstars that quote ‘had their own team’ that don’t get to the playoffs, ask them how they feel,” Harper told the Akron Beacon Journal.

Whatever happens moving forward, it seems the Cavs are in no rush to deal Irving. Harper believes that maybe LeBron James and Irving can work out their differences:

“I think LeBron is more mature. LeBron just wants to win, he wants to be on a good team. I don’t think he will hold any ill will towards him. And the only way you win is by having good teammates. You can repair anything if you talk. If you don’t talk, then it’s hard. If they communicate, it would be okay.”

Maybe James and Irving can settle their differences. Anything is possible!

Scottie Pippen on Kyrie Irving: ‘I see Kyrie looking at the opportunity to run before LeBron runs’

As reported numerous times, Cavaliers G Kyrie Irving has requested a trade. Irving reportedly wants to be a number one guy elsewhere. In addition, we don’t know what LeBron James might do next summer(James can become a free agent).

Because of the uncertainty with James, and Irving’s desire to have a bigger role, Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen thinks what Irving is doing is not a bad thing. Pippen had this to say on Friday’s edition of ESPN’s The Jump.

“I am a very strong supporter of what he’s doing because I’ve watched what has happened to him in his career and how things went for him in Cleveland, and I think he’s at a superstar level now that he can control his own destiny,” Pippen said.

Pippen thinks Kyrie might be trying to get out of Cleveland before LeBron does:

“I think it’s the perfect timing. Cleveland didn’t win a championship, they were right there, but there’s been a lot of things going on within that organization. LeBron (James) doesn’t give those guys the security that they need, that ‘the superstar is gonna be there and he’s gonna support us.’ And I see Kyrie looking at the opportunity to run before LeBron runs, because there’s a lot of chatter out there that LeBron’s coming to play with the Lakers,” Pippen said.

You can’t argue with what Kyrie is doing. Who knows what LeBron is going to do next summer. However, I don’t think Irving is a superstar. Furthermore, I don’t know if a team led by Irving is good enough to win NBA titles. Just like I don’t think Pippen was good enough to win titles without Jordan. 

Some players are meant to the number one guys, and some players are meant to be number two guys. Irving and Pippen are number two guys!