It’s switching courts again as we head into game 5 in both the series between the Chicago Bulls & Cleveland Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Clippers & Houston Rockets.
After two consecutive buzzer beaters from Derrick Rose and LeBron James, it’s safe to say the series between the Cavs and the Bulls is a close one. Both teams have missing players, injured players. Pau Gasol is questionable heading into game 5, missing the previous one. Kyrie Irving, averaging only 11.5 points in the previous two games, has his own injury problems to deal with, something that probably won’t be getting any better without some rest.
This leaves James, who also has Kevin Love out with his dislocated shoulder, rather alone. Sure, he has J.R. Smith saving his ass in the fourth quarter with some big 3-pointers off the bench, while Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson are doing a very good job in the frontcourt without having any depth or players to substitute them. But it all comes back to James.
Despite his last second heroics, James didn’t do too well in the game 4, tying the series; he shot just 33.3% from the field, is barely passing the 10% from downtown in the series. Buzzer beaters won’t happen every night, and maybe just once a series, at least for each team. James, who is handling the ball and finishing plays on almost every possession, needs to tone it down a little bit. Take better shots, let the game got to Smith a bit more. Carrying all of this on his shoulders seems to be too heavy a load. He didn’t come to the Cavs to play one vs five.
The Bulls need to figure out what to do on offense. Joakim Noah has been embarrassing, the bench has been mostly disappointing and while Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler have their good moments, they are too often caught in strings of bad shots instead of going to what’s been working. The Bulls, considering all the absentees, injuries and what’s been going on during the games, are the slightly better team. They need to start showing it for an entire game, at least once.
Clippers vs Rockets
The only series not tied after four games might be headed towards the final night of the season for the Houston Rockets, a team with a superstar that wanted to win the MVP but turns out once again as a defensive vulnerability, and a big man in Dwight Howard that spends more time off the floor because of all the fouls he picked up as the team demonstrates the awfulness in the hack-a-Jordan tactics.
Maybe we’re once again going to be submitted to a 3-hour free throw marathon, hopefully we’re not. Maybe we’ll finally get the Rockets focusing on playing basketball on both ends of the floor instead of trying artificial tactics to slow the Clippers down. Austin Rivers isn’t this good of a player, but Harden has to start at least trying on defense.
Maybe the Rockets aren’t heartless as we’ve said they are, but this team can’t keep quitting when things get out of hand in every third quarter. The 3-point or layup way isn’t working so someone has to do some change of plans. The problem is that Kevin McHale doesn’t seem like a coach capable of making that change, while the Rockets have got it in their heads that no matter what they do, this matchup is very bad for them.