Bulls Squeak By Cavs 97-95; LeBron Records First Double-Double

Photo used courtesy of: Erik Daniel Drost. (CC) Some rights reserved.

Photo used courtesy of: Erik Daniel Drost. (CC) Some rights reserved.

The Cavs (0-1) dropped last night’s season opener 97-95 to the Chicago Bulls (1-0), despite a double-double from LeBron James (25 Pts, 10 Reb, 5 Ast). Neither team looked great, as the rust from the offseason and lack of minutes in the preseason affected both teams. LeBron missed the past two weeks due to back stiffness, Timofey Mozgov (5 Pts, 5 Reb) is still recovering from knee surgery, Kevin Love (18 Pts, 8 Reb) saw his first real minutes since leaving Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs and Tristan Thompson (2 Pts, 12 Reb) saw his first action since June because of a contract dispute (more on that later). The Cavs were also without Iman Shumpert (leg) and Kyrie Irving (knee).

It’s not like the Bulls weren’t banged up either. Derrick Rose suffered left orbital fracture during practice a few weeks ago and is still reportedly suffering with double vision. However, that didn’t stop him from looking like his former self last night as he dropped 18 points and five assists, not to mention, he came into last night’s contest ten pounds lighter. Jimmy Butler added 17 points, and Pau Gasol only scored two points and recorded just two rebounds. The big surprise for the Bulls was 24-year old Nikola Mirotic, who is now the starting power forward for the Bulls. Mirotic scored 19 points, nine of which came on three-pointers (3-4 3-Pt). Joakim Noah was moved to the bench at his own request, which actually looks like it will benefit the Bulls. He didn’t score, but he did grab nine rebounds and had four assists. E’Twaun Moore led the Bulls bench with 11 points .

While the Bulls were at full strength, the Cavs had to work with a couple new pieces in place of the usual cast. With Kyrie out, newly acquired Mo Williams made his return to the Cavs starting lineup and he didn’t disappoint. Mo scored 19 points and tallied seven assists. J.R. Smith rounds out the scoring for the starters with eight points and five rebounds. Anderson Varejao returned to the court for the first time since tearing his Achilles last December and scored two points with two rebounds.

Matthew Dellavedova added six points and Richard Jefferson scored ten coming off the bench. LeBron’s 25-10-5 line makes him the first player with an opening night line like this since Christmas Day in 2011 when he did it for Miami.

Final Thoughts

Mo Williams had a very impressive performance in his 2015-16 Cavs debut, which is why he’s here. With Kyrie sidelined until at least January, Mo is going to be the starting point guard unless he gets injured. Not only does he have a history of chemistry with LeBron, he will also provide the Cavs with much needed depth behind Kyrie once he gets going. A large part of the Cavs’ collapse in the Finals was due in part to no scoring outside of LeBron and J.R. Smith, when he wasn’t on a cold streak. It was also great to see Andy and Love out there fighting for rebounds and playing extremely hard, especially after their seasons were cut short due to horrific injuries last year. Which brings me to the elephant in the room….

Tristan Thompson signed a 5-yr, $82 million deal last week, and he didn’t play like he deserved it. Yes, he gathered 12 rebounds, which led the team. However, there were plays where he wasn’t showing any motivation to go after a rebound and he was being pushed around most of the night. Players that get the deal he has, at his position, usually average a double-double, somewhere in the 14 PPG and 12 RPG area. Varejao would be worth the money. Hell, Draymond Green of Golden State actually would be worth that price. Thompson is too one dimensional to demand a deal like that, and to be a hold-out over $2 million is really childish personally. He better start averaging AT LEAST 10 Pts and 10 Reb from here on out to quiet some of the hate, but even then, I doubt that the “overpaid” talk will ever go away.

Up Next: @ Memphis, 8 p.m. tonight

Game Ball: Nikola Mirotic (19 Pts, 9 Reb)

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Raymond Bosak About Raymond Bosak

Hello everyone. My name is Raymond Bosak and I live in Cleveland, Ohio. I am a die-hard Cleveland fan, and have been my entire life. I am looking forward to bringing you some excellent Browns, Buckeyes, and Indians coverage, and maybe some Cavs things too. Everything I write will be honest and upfront. I’ll aim to have a couple articles per week, including some game previews and reviews, 5 things to watch for, and game ball and game MVP(s).

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