Chicago Bulls can overtake Cleveland Cavaliers in 2015


The Chicago Bulls square off against the Cleveland Cavaliers Tuesday night at the United Center to tip off the 2015-16 NBA season. The game is a rematch of last seasons second round playoff series in which the Cavs bested the Bulls in six games.

The NBA season is back. So what better way to start the season than to watch two rival teams battle. The Bulls and Cavaliers are the two best teams in the eastern conference and are fierce rivals with one another. The rivalry is based on the fact that LeBron James is on the Cavs.

James has eliminated the Bulls from the playoffs four times in his career, twice as a member of the Miami Heat and twice with the Cavaliers. Last season was the first time a Bulls’ team had ever won two games against a Lebron led team in the playoffs. Things were looking good for the Bulls as they had a double digit lead going into the 4th quarter of game 4.

The Bulls then went on a huge scoring drought which allowed the Cavs to get back into the game. James then hit a game winning three pointer at the end of regulation to give the Cavs the comeback win and tie the series at two games a piece.

The Bulls never rebounded from the game 4 collapse and lost the next two games. After the Bulls were eliminated, Tom Thibodeau was fired and Fred Hoiberg was hired from Iowa State a few weeks later.

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Fast forward to today. It is a new season and the Bulls are feeling good about their chances of winning a title. Hoiberg has installed a player friendly offense and the Bulls are pushing the ball at a rapid pace.

The Bulls front office is hoping that Hoiberg’s offensive strategy will be the difference in the Bulls getting past Lebron and the Cavaliers.

The Bulls have the same team as last year besides adding rookie Bobby Portis through the draft.

Health is always the number one question with the Bulls. Derrick Rose hasn’t been able to stay healthy since his MVP year back in the 2010-11 season. He has shown flashes of his old self after under going three knee surgeries, but has also shown the rust of a player who has missed so much time.

Rose had a productive summer leading into this season, as he wasn’t rehabbing an injury and was able to work on his game. He was able to get back into the routine of being a ball player and that was key for his confidence.

Teammates and coaches have raved about the shape that Rose is in right now. He looks trimmer in his upper body. That’s good for him as it is less weight and muscle for him to carry around the court, which allows him to be quicker.

Rose looked explosive and fast in his lone preseason game and lifted the spirits of the team with his return and play. The Bulls know that without a healthy Rose, they are not competing for a championship this season. Rose is the perfect point guard to run Hoiberg’s offense as this offense lets Rose play loose, fast and downhill.

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  • The Bulls are going to be better on offense this season, but the Cavaliers are loaded with offensive weapons as well, and it will come down to the Bulls getting stops on the defensive end to overtake the Cavaliers.

    LeBron is the best basketball player in the world. You can’t guard him with one player. You have to guard him with a whole team and throw bodies at him constantly.

    Jimmy Butler is a fantastic defender and will be the primary defender on James. James has too much weight on Butler though, and can easily post him up anytime he wants and get easy baskets or create for others.

    You aren’t going to fully stop Lebron but you can limit his efficiency by forcing him to shoot jump shots. That is the weakest part of his game. The Bulls have to throw a number of bodies at LeBron and force him to beat them from the perimeter.

    Cavs guard Kyrie Irving is going to miss the season opener vs the Bulls because of the knee injury he suffered in the finals. When he is healthy though, he is one of the best players in the league and drives defenses crazy with his ball handling skills, jump shooting and ability to drive the lane.

    Rose and Irving will essentially cancel each other out when the Bulls and Cavs meet. Neither one can guard the other that well, although Rose did surprise many in the playoffs with his aggressive defense on Irving.

    The Bulls and Cavaliers series will be decided on match ups and which team can play better defense. The Bulls and Cavs both have good depth in the front court.

    The Bulls have Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic, Taj Gibson, and Joakim Noah, who are all great players in their own right. Rookie Bobby Portis made a strong impression in preseason and looks to be in the rotation as well.

    On the other side, the Cavs have Kevin LoveTristan Thompson, Anderson Varejão and Timofey Mozgov.

    Love dislocated his shoulder in the first round of last years playoffs and was out for the remainder of it. The Cavs didn’t even need Love to beat the Bulls. Thompson was an absolute force for the Cavs, as he out-rebounded the entire Bulls front court all on his own. The Bulls have to box him out better this season otherwise it’s going to be the same result.

    Don’t be surprised if you see Portis in their battling with Thompson. Portis plays with a lot of energy and looks like the type of guy who would love to box out and battle down low in the post.

    The Bulls actually have an edge in health going into the season opener. Rose is back from his eye injury and will be playing opening night.

    The Cavs meanwhile are beat up.

    Lebron is dealing with a back injury. Love is coming back from the shoulder injury. Mozgov is still rehabbing his knee because he had surgery in the off-season. Varejão is coming back from an Achilles tear and Irving is still not cleared to play yet.

    The Bulls should take advantage of this and run it up and down the Cavs throat Tuesday night. In terms of getting past the Cavs in the playoffs, it’s all about playing consistent defense and putting pressure on their defense by pushing the pace.

    The offense under Thibodeau was mundane and slow. Hoiberg’s offense is the exact opposite and it is clear that the Bulls’ players are thrilled to be playing in this style of offense. Time will tell if Hoiberg’s offensive philosophy alone can be the key for the Bulls to overtake LeBron and the Cavs.

    Assuming both teams are healthy come playoff time, the Bulls and Cavs will likely meet in the eastern conference finals and battle it out to see who can reach the NBA finals.

    The Bulls are a hungry team. They are sick and tired of getting eliminated by LeBron year after year, and need to take advantage of the opportunity ahead of them.

    The Bulls can overtake the Cavs as the best team in the east in 2015 and collectively as a team, need to have tunnel vision and focus on one thing, winning a championship.

    To achieve that goal, they have to first get past LeBron and the Cavs.

    It took Michael Jordan a few years to get passed his biggest hurdle, the Detroit Pistons in the 90’s. Here’s to hoping that this is the year the Bulls overcome their obstacle, Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.