Cavs at Bulls
7:00 pm CDT
LeBron James, one game after hitting the buzzer beater to win game four, had a signature LeBron game in game five: 38, 12 and six, with just a relentless attack of the basket. Playing without Pau Gasol, and with Derrick Rose struggling with his shot, the Bulls were fortunate to be in the game late, but ultimately fell behind in the series and now face elimination at home. Gasol is going to give it go tonight on his gimpy hamstring, while for the Cavs, Kyrie Irving, despite his excellent 25 point performance in game five, has also not been at full speed for most of this series.
If the Cavs get through this series, it will be a testament (not that he needs another) to LeBron's greatness. Without Kevin Love and a full strength Irving, the Bulls have every opportunity to steal this series and reach the Eastern Conference Finals, where they would have to feel confident against either possible opponent. But now their backs are against the proverbial wall, and they need to find their game and figure out a way to at least slow down the biggest superstar in basketball.
The Rockets surprised me by showing up in game five and controlling the game en route to a season saving win after they had looked terrible and over matched in games 3 and 4 in Los Angeles. They are back at Staples Center tonight, and once again their season is on the line. Was game five evidence that they have found the game that got them to 56 wins, or was it merely the last gasp of a team that looked finished a few days earlier? We'll see tonight, as the Rockets must win on the road to extend the series to seven and get it back to Houston.
The Rockets finally shot the ball well in game five, at least from inside the arc, and held their own on the boards, which is an area that had been hurting them all series. Whether putting Josh Smith in the starting lineup in place of Terrence Jones made a difference, who knows, but I expect they will stay with that for tonight as well.
The Clippers got terrific games from their stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, as they have most of the playoffs, but got little else, especially off the bench. They don't need a ton of help elsewhere, but they need to get something. DeAndre Jordan was in foul trouble and only played 24 minutes in game five, reminding us that a big factor is whose center gets in foul trouble first. Outside of Paul, the Clips perimeter players (Barnes, Redick, Crawford, and Rivers) combined to shoot 9-41 in game five, something that needs to, and probably will, improve.
Should be two good games tonight. Chat about them here.