Behind tough man-to-man defense and a dominate effort on the glass, the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers advanced to the Eastern Conference finals with a resounding 94-73 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night at the United Center. The Cavs won the best-of-seven series, 4-2.
The Bulls shot just 37.5 percent from the field, and were outrebounded by the Cavs, 53-32. Even the presence of power forward Pau Gasol, who sat out Game 5 with a hamstring injury, did little to hold off Cleveland’s second-chance efforts. Tristan Thompson led all players with 17 rebounds, including six on the offensive glass.
David Blatt’s squad got some big scoring production off the bench. Matthew Dellavedova, who had turned the ball over in the closing moments of a tight Game 5, redeemed himself with a 19-point scoring effort to lead Cleveland. The Australian-born combo guard converted seven of his 11 field-goal attempts to pace the Cavs. The Cavs bench outscored the Bulls bench, 40-20.
The Cavs also nearly received a triple-double from LeBron James, who finished with 15 points, 11 assists, and nine rebounds. However, the superstar forward struggled from the field, shooting just 7-23.
It wasn’t all bright news for Cleveland. Star point guard Kyrie Irving tweaked his left knee in the second quarter and limped off the court. According to ESPN reporter Lisa Salters, the injury is not considered to be serious. In the Cavs’ first-round series with the Boston Celtics, Kevin Love suffered a season-ending shoulder injury.
Cleveland will face the winner of the Atlanta Hawks-Washington Wizards series. The Hawks currently lead the series, 3-2. Atlanta finished with the best record (60-22) in the Eastern Conference, and would have home-court advantage against the Cavaliers in the best-of-seven conference finals.