After the Cleveland Cavaliers lost to the Toronto Raptors in the season opener, they traveled to Chicago for one purpose – to teach the Bulls a lesson.
Led by three-time NBA All-Star Donovan Mitchell, the Cavs handed the Chicago Bulls their second straight loss of the season. Mitchell, who recently moved to Cleveland from Utah, put up 32 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists.
He made it look so easy to the Cavaliers while the Bulls fell to 1-2.
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) October 23, 2022
The Bulls were not ready for Donovan Mitchell
Mitchell has been playing at a very high level averaging 33.3 points per game in the 2022 – 2023 season.
He was exceptional even in their season opener against the Raptors, where he recorded 31 points on 57% shooting. So the Bulls didn’t expect anything less, but on the same note, Michelle might have surprised them on Sunday.
Mitchell showcased more than he had done in their first game of the season, thus giving the Bulls a really hard time. To show that he could manage the point guard position in the absence of Darius Garland, Mitchell didn’t leave any stone unturned. He gave himself the job of creating looks for other players in the first quarter, and the first beneficiary of his playmaking was Evan Mobley.
Mobley was the focal point of the offense in the first quarter and even caught an alley-oop which fellow front-court stud Jarrett Allen supplied. The team’s hot shooting ensured the Cavaliers managed 9 points ahead of DeMar DeRozan’s team in the first quarter.
Donovan Mitchell with another dominant performance tonight
Bounce back W for the Cavs
32p / 9r / 8a / 4 3PM / +19 +/- pic.twitter.com/MHejP78DfD
— Coast 2 Coast (@Coast2CoastNBA) October 23, 2022
The Threat Of Raul Neto
By the start of the second quarter, the Cavs still went on an early 7-2 run. They started by pushing the pace and tried to get into transition sets as much as possible. As a result, they denied the Bulls the opportunity to get set on defense.
In all these, Mitchell continued to be the main man on the field. He made sure to get the ball to his open teammates in good time before the opponents could recover. By the end of the first half, the Cavaliers were ahead of the Bulls, maintaining a sizable 70-54 lead despite Zach LaVine’s efforts to rescue his team.
When the Cavs gave Mitchell a rest, Raul Neto came in for him. And since Mitchell had set the pace, Neto didn’t have a hard time dropping 6 points. Besides, the Cavs knew well that he couldn’t create his own shots, so Jarret Allen and Robin Lopez came in big and helped run the offense.
Lack of 3- point shooting and DeRozan’s off night
The Bulls’ lack of 3-point shooting was an issue even in the preseason, and so Sunday’s game wasn’t different. In the 128-96 home loss to the Cavaliers, the Bulls missed 10 of their first 12 long-range shots. They managed to finish 7-for-29. The Bulls had also previously lost 20 of 27 when they met the Wizards in their second game of the season, which the Wizards won 102-100.
Even though LaVine and Vucevic had 39 combined points on 16-for-29 from the floor, he didn’t offer the usual output the Bulls expected.
He had a historic stretch in the first two games of the season, so the Bulls still relied on him to deliver. Unfortunately, Deebo only managed 34.5 points over the stretch. He struggled against the Cavaliers and only managed to put up 13 points on 3-9 from the floor and 7-for-7 from the free-throw line.
DeMar was rested with 4:30 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“It’s all about effort,” DeMar told reporters. “As close to 48 minutes as possible. We can’t have too many lapses like we did tonight and look up, make our job difficult when you realize you’re down 20.”
— Brock Kowalski (@BrockOnCavs) October 23, 2022
LaVine’s strong start was all that went right for the Bulls
The Bulls shooting guard suffered a left knee injury in January 2022 in Chicago’s loss to Golden. After missing five games, he returned and managed to play through lingering soreness in his knee during the second phase of last season until he underwent knee surgery in May.
So when the season opened, he didn’t feature in the first two games, and his absence was tied to the knee injury.
Then when the team took on the Cavaliers, LaVine finally suited up for the Bulls, and in 28 minutes of action, he registered 23 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists. Remember, LaVine was the Bulls’ leading scorer last season, even though injuries ate into some of his playing time.
“I was excited to go out there and help my team again,” LaVine said. “I just wish we played better. We all could have done better, especially on the home opener. But learn from your mistakes early, and get back on to it. Just happy to be back out there.”
Contrary to expectations, LaVine came out aggressive and scored 17 of his 23 points in the first half on 7-for-10 from the field. It’s his stronger start that went right for the Bulls.