Chicago Bulls center Pau Gasol was the late hero on Tuesday night as he produced this dramatic late block on Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James to help his team to a 97-95 win.
It was a first win for new coach Fred Hoiberg, as the post-Tom Thibodeau era began with a new offensive look as well as signs of their previous defensive solidity.
However, the biggest aspect of the job this season for Hoiberg will be to find the right balance, as although the Bulls impressed with their pace and ball movement for the most part, the Cavaliers were able to get to the rim far too easily on occasion.
That is a sacrifice that the Bulls may well have to make if they want to run their offense with more freedom, but the old adage that ‘defense wins championships’ isn’t a lie.
While this was opening night and there is plenty of basketball to be played over the next few months before we reach the playoffs, there were both positives and negatives for the hosts on Tuesday.
Ultimately, they got the W. Derrick Rose looked good despite his lack of playing time in pre-season and the new rotation showed signs that it could work to their advantage with Joakim Noah coming off the bench.
However, the Bulls only just overcame a Cleveland team that was missing Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert, and the likes of James, Kevin Love and others were still struggling with issues dating back to last season. In fact, LeBron spent most of his night on his back as he continues to manage his minutes and injury issue.
As a result, this wasn’t entirely convincing from Chicago in terms of them showing that they can overcome the Cavs this year. LeBron has been their playoff nightmare for so many years, and if the Cavs are healthy and on form in April and beyond, this story may well have a familiar ending.