Cavs ease past Bulls into Eastern Conference finals
Their star point guard was injured, Kevin Love sidelined, and LeBron James struggling, but the Cleveland Cavaliers bench stepped up big to help defeat the Chicago Bulls and move on to the Eastern Conference Championship.
Behind a near triple-double from James and backup point guard Matthew Dellavedova stepping in with 19 points for the injured Kyrie Irving, the Cavs eliminated the Bulls in Game 6 of the East semifinals Thursday night 94-73 in front of a raucous United Center crowd in Chicago.
James scored 15 points on just 7-for-23 shooting from the field adding 11 assists and 9 rebounds to help lead his team to the win.
But it was a strong performance from Cleveland’s bench that helped overwhelm the Bulls.
Along with Dellavedova’s hot hand, reserve J.R. Smith added 12 points, shooting 50% from three-point land, and forward James Jones added nine. Starting forward Tristan Thompson put in 13 and also brought down 17 rebounds. Guard Iman Shumpert added 13 points.
Starting point guard Kyrie Irving added just six points, seeing limited minutes after he sustained a leg injury in the second quarter. It was later revealed to be a knee injury, the extent of which is unknown. His status is day-to-day.
The Bulls were lead by the NBA’s Most Improved Player winner Jimmy Butler with 20 points. Guard Derrick Rose added 14, but was the only other Chicago player in double-digits.
After falling behind 2-1 in the series, Cleveland won the next three to close out the series Thursday.
They await the winner of the Atlanta Hawks, Washington Wizards series. Atlanta leads that series 3-2, with Game 6 Friday night in Washington.
Also in action Friday night will be the Golden State Warriors against the Memphis Grizzlies in the West. The Warriors lead three games to two.
Thursday night’s action was rounded out with a shocking fourth-quarter comeback by the Houston Rockets against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Rockets rallied from 19 down in the fourth quarter to force a Game 7 Sunday back in Houston.