The Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors are locked in a tight battle to determine who will be granted the opportunity to be swept by Cleveland in the first round of the Playoffs. It is a fate that the Cavs had a chance to affect last night, and their decision to sit out LeBron James fueled speculation about their preferred opponent once the postseason rolls around.
By playing without LBJ night, some figured this was a clear sign that Cleveland would rather face Chicago in the opening round, since the Bulls were likely to win the game (they did) and Toronto seems to be doomed without Chris Bosh in its lineup (they are).
The Sun-Times explores the issue:
There has been speculation in some places — mostly north of the border — that the Cleveland Cavaliers would rather play the Bulls than the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the playoffs.
Such talk figures to grow now that the Cavaliers chose to sit LeBron James for Thursday night’s game against the Bulls at the United Center — two days after James played 35½ minutes against the Raptors.
”He’s got some bumps and bruises, and we just decided to rest him,” Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said before the game. The Cavaliers already have clinched the best record in the NBA, and James said a few days ago that he wanted to get some rest down the stretch.
The Bulls/Cavs game last night was a lot closer than anyone had anticipated it to be, and judging by LeBron’s wild reactions while sitting (and standing) behind his team’s bench, he wanted the win badly. The decision to sit him out was strictly about preserving his health and energy for the next couple of months.
The Cavs don’t have a preferred first round foe. It doesn’t matter who they face; the opponent — be it the Raptors or Bulls — has no chance whatsoever.