Tonight, the Bulls ended the regular season on a high note, crushing Lebron James’ former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. The hope is that they will have the same success, next month, against his current team.
And if the Bulls do meet Lebron’s Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals for the second consecutive year, Game 1 will be in Chicago…again.
Tonight’s 107-75 toppling of the Cavs at the United Center means the Bulls clinch the number one overall seed in the NBA’s postseason, and home court advantage throughout.
Playing without starters Derrick Rose and Luol Deng, and last night’s top performer, Kyle Korver, Chicago’s reserves stepped up in a big way. Barring injury, this was probably the last time this season guys like John Lucas III, Jimmy Butler and Mike James will play meaningful minutes, and so they made them count.
Butler played 28 minutes, one shy of his season (and career) high. He posted 12 points which tied a career-high. James, who was not a Bull when the season began, and was waived and re-signed more times than we can count, added 10 points off the bench.
John Lucas III exploded offensively, hitting 10 of his 16 shots en route to a 25-point performance. Lucas III began the season as the team’s 12th man, but was forced into a more prominent role due to injuries to Rose and backup point guard C.J. Watson. Lucas III took that extra playing time and ran with it, posting 20+ points on four separate occasions and scoring in double figures a total of 15 times, something he had done just twice prior to this season.
The Bulls will kick off the quest for their 7th Larry O’Brien trophy Saturday (12:00 PM CST) vs. the Philadelphia 76ers. When asked what it would mean to take on the Bulls in the opening round, Philly guard and Chicago native Evan Turner said, “It means we’re dodging the tougher team. That’s what I think.” Time to make Turner eat his words.