The Cleveland Cavaliers have a chance to finish off the Chicago Bulls in game 6 of their conference semifinals series, and the same goes for the Los Angeles Clippers playing the Houston Rockets, although they are coming off a pretty heavy loss.
The Cavaliers and Bulls are giving us a fantastic series, filled with close games and even closer, exciting, nail-biter type finishes. But it seems that the last two games, with or without the buzzer beaters, gave us a glimpse of the ending, and that is the Cavaliers taking this series, because the Bulls have a very difficult time closing out games, with or without Pau Gasol.
Gasol is likely to be playing after missing the two previous games, which just so happened to be losses. He is averaging just 12.7 points per game in this series, but obviously missing someone like him under the boards and as a post up option is difficult to make up for, especially as Noah continues to look awkward and even embarrassing when the ball moves through him.
Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler, as much as it’s difficult to say after the two have been carrying this team through the rough patches, have to play an almost perfect game for this to work. LeBron James seems to be on a different level right now, and although that sometimes makes the Cavaliers complacent and stagnant, it’s very hard to individually compete with him. Rose can’t suddenly disappear for almost a half, or Butler to wait until Rose fades away to take control.
The offensive coaching, spacing and decision making on the Bulls seems arbitrary at times. It might be coming down to the players themselves to rise above and stop taking bad shots, make foolish mistakes and move the ball the right way. The Cavaliers have too many moments when time stands still, waiting for James to have his say or way. The Bulls need to take advantage of those situations, even if it actually requires some thinking when they have the ball.
Rockets vs Clippers
After accusing the Rockets of having no heart, they come out and play their best game of the series, which pretty much means shots for guys like Trevor Ariza dropping. And it does come down to two things for the Rockets most of the time: Getting to the line (shot 38 free throws) and making their 3-pointers. Now their percentages weren’t exactly eye popping, but they were better than the Clippers managed to scrap up.
DeAndre Jordan is going to continue and go to the line, this time shooting 16 (actually making 7 of them). This time the Clippers didn’t do a very good job of coming out of the lull and burn the court. J.J. Redick was off his game with just 3-of-12 from the field, Austin Rivers fell back to “Daddy’s little boy” mode and Jamal Crawford was disastrous each time he touched the ball.
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin can be amazing, but this series is about Redick, Rivers and Matt Barnes making their shots. When it comes to stars vs stars, we’re pretty evenly matched. The difference makers are the guys a bit further away from the spotlight. Griffin, Paul, Harden, Howard; stars are going to get their numbers. It’s how they help the others get theirs which makes the difference.