Game 4 of the Eastern Conference 1st Round might've been a win for Cleveland, but it felt more like a loss. Kevin Love popped his shoulder out of place in a tangle-up with Kelly Olynyk, Kendrick Perkins shoved Jae Crowder, and J.R. Smith proceeded to karate-chop that same shoved guy in the face. Both will potentially face suspensions. It seems like the perfect storm for what could be the end of the Cavaliers' season. To make matters worse, the Cavs will likely face the Bulls in the next round and the Bulls are on the verge of eliminating the Bucks. Why are the Bulls their biggest threat?
For starters, Cleveland will definitely miss Kevin Love. Cleveland will need a big man to combat Chicago and Kevin Love is one of the best rebounding players in the league. It's likely he'll be out three to four weeks. It certainly won't help matters that Kendrick Perkins will possibly be suspended for his dirty play on Jae Crowder since he's the next best option behind Love. How will they counter Pau Gasol, who's averaging 13.3 rebounds in this postseason? That leads me to my next point.
While Cleveland may be ahead of Chicago in terms of bench scoring (30.8 ppg compared to Chicago's 27.2), losing Kendrick Perkins hurts not only the rebounding aspect of Cleveland's game, but also the scoring part. Take away Perkins's 3.6 ppg and Cleveland's dead even with Chicago in terms of bench scoring. Experts have clamored about how deep the Bulls are and this could be a major problem for Cleveland in the series.
Let's not forget about Jimmy Butler, who's averaging 28.3 ppg this postseason. He has been a pleasant surprise for the Bulls this year and he continues to contribute a lot for Chicago. Can you also imagine if Derrick Rose starts becoming consistent? That could be a scary thought for Cleveland.
If there's one thing Cleveland can take out of this that's positive, Chicago's been having problems with turnovers so far. It's what got them in Game 4 against the Bucks and it's what Cleveland could use to their advantage in order to march on towards their pursuit of a title. Still, this series will be a huge hill to climb for Cleveland, so they better hope that the Bucks can stall (or upset) the Bulls.