Game 8: Cavaliers vs Bulls Behind The Box Score

They say box scores don’t tell the whole story. Behind The Box Score is a new series where from time to time we will attempt to look behind the box score and tell more of the complete story of what happened in the game.

Kyrie Irving Derrick Rose BullsThere are different degrees of losses for sure. Some losses are better than others. I’m not sure I would go so far as calling something a good loss. That would imply value in losing, and that’s such a dangerous proposition. I certainly don’t want to be back in a position where losing games is a good thing, especially this early in the season. But on the sliding scale of losses, this loss to the Bulls wasn’t as bad as some of the other losses.

It’s not that the Cavaliers played particularly well. In general, this was an ugly game with a lot of bad basketball being played. But the Cavaliers showed a lot of spirit and heart in this game, coming back from a 2nd half deficit to get within 1 point in the 4th quarter before things fell apart a bit. But playing Chicago hard on the road really is progress. After seeing so many 20+ point blowouts over the years, it was just nice to see the Cavaliers come out and play the Bulls tough for once.

Now lets get into the numbers:

– 5-of-19 – Kyrie Irving continued to really struggle with his shooting. Kyrie was 2-5 from three and 5-19 overall. He still finished with 16 points to lead the Cavaliers in scoring, but something is just off with Kyrie this season. After the game Mike Brown was asked about seeming to yell at Kyrie a bit in the first quarter, and Coach Brown seemed to hint at some team friction. I don’t know what’s going on, but something just feels a little “off” to me. Whatever is going on, it needs to get fixed quickly.

– (-3) – The Cavaliers ended up being –3 in the rebounding margin, 38-41. I mentioned before the game that Chicago has been one of the few teams to routinely outrebound the Cavaliers, and that held true once more. The Cavs did have 11 offensive rebounds and 16 second chance points in this game, but they could only grab 1 offensive board in the 4th quarter. When the game got close and became a possession-by-possession affair, the Bulls really locked down the glass. Taj Gibson had 6 rebounds alone in the 4th quarter. The Cavaliers just had too many one-and-done possessions and the Bulls were able to capitalize.

– 11 – Andrew Bynum started for the Cavaliers for the first time, and in 21 minutes he had 11 points (5-of-5 on FTs), 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks. He missed a few shots that I’m sure he’d love to have  back and he just in general remains a work in progress. But it was still nice seeing Bynum able to start and do a few things really well. When Mike Brown went to the bench, he subbed out Tristan Thompson for Anderson Varejao, thus playing with both Varejao and Bynum. It was actually kind of nice to see and something that could be more effective later in the season if/when Bynum is closer to his old self.

– 14 and 13 – Tristan Thompson recorded his 5th double-double of the season with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Tristan was probably the most consistent player on the court for the Cavaliers and he really worked to earn his double-double.

– 16 to 16 – The first ever battle between Irving and Rose ends in a tie, with 16 points each. Of course, Rose could make a compelling argument he won because his team won. But regardless, this matchup lived up to about what I expected. Both players continued to show a lot of the rust that they’ve been dealing with all season. Neither one shot that well, and both were inconsistent on defense. But it was still entertaining watching the two of them battle each other, even if the results weren’t always pretty.


Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images

  • When you’re Kyrie Irving and you shoot 5 for 19 from the floor, that may be a bad game. When you’re Kyrie Irving and you’re shooting 70% from the stripe and 39% from the field on the season, something isn’t quite right upstairs. If he has a problem with Mike Brown or vice-versa they had better have their Kumbaya moment now. Get it out on the table, fix it and get back to .500 before the end of the week.

  • Kildawg

    I know it’s been only 8 games, but a glaring weakness is the SF spot. Gee and Miles are capable of occupying it as G/F combo players, but they really aren’t starters. SF has been a Cavs weak spot since ‘the Decision’. Needs to be addressed via trade (stopgap or longer term) or tough out season and hope for ‘the Return’ (which is very unlikely).

  • boomhauertjs

    Jason Lloyd had a great post-game write up. Lots of good stuff in there, especially about the Kyrie-Brown tiff.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    He’s putting so much more effort on defense this year, is it any wonder that his offense has suffered?

  • BenRM

    I’ll be honest: I will trade “absolute defensive liability Kyrie” for slightly less of a defensive liability Kyrie” if it means his return to 20+ PPG.