COLUMBUS – In what may be a prelude to a hard-fought four-game regular season war, the Cleveland Cavs downed the Chicago Bulls 107-98 Monday in front of a sellout crowd of 19,049 at Ohio State’s University Value City Arena.
This may have been a preview of the Eastern Conference Final because both teams gave it their all. This wasn’t just any exhibition it was a game against two rival teams. With both teams sticking to their regular-season rotations and the Cavaliers “Big Three” playing together for just the second time this preseason.
“The Big Three” all had their moments. Kyrie Irving led the Cavs with 28 points on 10-for-19 shooting and seven assists in 39 minutes. Irving did some damage, while Chicago’s Derrick Rose put up 30 points in 24 minutes. Rose and Irving played like they were in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Kevin Love had nine points on 2-for-10 shooting and had a game high 13 rebounds in 35 minutes. Anderson Varejao started at center and put up 22 points and eight boards in 23 minutes. Tristan Thompson had 10 points and eight boards in 24 minutes, while Dion Waiters added 10 points on 4-for-11 shooting, making him 12-for-40 over his last three games.
LeBron James was 6-for-11 from the field and stated after the win that he wouldn’t be playing in the preseason finale Wednesday against Memphis.
At this time, Rose minutes are very limited, the former MVP had 27 points with 10 minutes left in the third period and finished 12-for-18 from the field. If he stays healthy, will be one extraordinary player again.
Chicago got 12 points and eight rebounds from Pau Gasol, 12 points from reserve forward Taj Gibson and nine points from backup point guard Aaron Brooks with Bulls point guards scoring 39 points.
The Cavs controlled the play for most of the night and led as many as 12 points despite Cleveland’s perimeter defense was lacking against the pick-and-roll. Chicago shot just .416 for the night while Cleveland connected at a .486 clip against perhaps the league’s best defense team.
The Cavs play the Bulls four times this season with the first game being on Oct. 31 at the United Center in Chicago. This exhibition game was the best yet because we saw the two teams in Cleveland and Chicago that could meet in the Eastern Conference Finals.
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