Game 5 of the Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Chicago Bulls Eastern Conference semifinals easily rates as must-see TV.
How can it not when the first four games have been decided by an average of less than seven points, the last two on game-winning buzzer beaters and the overall series now standing deadlocked at 2-2?
LeBron James and Derrick Rose have gone at one another about as hard as any players have in recent postseason memory. The end result has led to James nearly averaging a triple-double over his last two games, while Rose has bagged back-to-back 30-point outings for the first time in more than three full regular seasons.
With that in mind, the most anticipated series of the NBA’s second round has easily smashed its high expectations thus far, and now try imagining what it will be like when the Cavs play host to the Bulls Tuesday night at Quicken & Loans Arena in the series’ most pivotal matchup. James and Rose, both former MVP winners themselves, will be seeking an encore.
While it’s almost unfair that one of these elite teams won’t be able to move on to the Eastern Conference Finals, the big winners in all of this are NBA fans, particularly those fortunate enough to get their hands on Cleveland Cavaliers tickets for this crucial Game 5. At the moment, those tickets are being sold at an average price of $210.62, with a get-in cost of $86.
As brilliant as James and Rose have been, the entire series has hardly been about just them. With regular running-mate Kyrie Irving slowed by an injured right foot and Kevin Love done for the season with a shoulder injury, the frontcourt tandem of Timothy Mozgov (12 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks over the last two games) and Tristan Thompson (11 points, 10 rebounds) has stood tall for the Cavs.
And in Sunday’s 86-84 win, the much-maligned J.R. Smith came off the bench to swish three three-pointers and drop in 11 fourth-quarter points.
For the Bulls, Jimmy Butler and Joakim Noah’s grit and toughness have been key. A restricted free-agent at the end of the season, Butler, just named the league’s Most Improved Player, couldn’t have picked a more opportune time to show off just valuable and versatile he can be.
In addition to averaging 20 points, six rebounds and four steals over the pair of games in Chicago, he also harassed James into just 18-of-55 shooting and 15 turnovers. The Bulls could have the added boast of having Pau Gasol back on Tuesday after he sat out Sunday’s game with a strained left hamstring.
It all points to a potential classic Game 5, a showdown with more on the line than any of the other aforementioned thrillers in this series. Without question, this is the definition of must-see TV.