Being lucky enough to have a press pass for Game Four of the Chicago Bulls-Cleveland Cavaliers playoff series, I had the opportunity to ask some postgame questions to the stars of both teams, along with Bulls' coach Vinny Del Negro.
The Bulls were blown out, but the game was 47-46 Cavs when the turning point of the game occurred with Vinny Del Negro substituting James Johnson into the game with 3:05 left in the second quarter.
Here are the results of that Q and A session:
DH: LeBron, It' s the seventh year in the league for you, and obviously your goal this year is to win the championship. Based on that, whether your team wins or loses, will that have any effect on where you're going to be playing in the NBA next year?
LeBron: (After a moment of hesitation) No, this series is so important. Game five is the most important game for our season, and if we come in with the mindset we had tonight, we've got a great chance of closing it out.
DH: Derrick, no matter what happens the rest of this series, do you think the way your team has progressed, and how well you have played in the playoffs last year and this year, and that you have a good chance of adding a max free-agent, that your team is ready to take the next step and next year, instead of being the underdog, maybe being a favorite in the playoffs?
Rose: Yeah, the future looks bright, but right now we're in the playoffs. I'm not worried about next year or anything like that. I'm thinking about the next game. We gotta go out there and win. We have to at least give a challenge. Next year, let's not think about that, but right now we've got to play well and play with a lot of energy, and play together and attack throughout the whole game.
DH: Joakim, you ended up with great numbers in the game and I know it doesn't mean anything to you because you lost the game. You seem to be the emotional leader of the team. What do you think you need to do Tuesday for the team to bring the series back to Chicago on Thursday?
Noah: I just want to try to affect winning as much as I can. That's all I can do.
DH: (This question was asked before the game) Vinny, are you at all surprised with how well your team has played against Cleveland, especially the last two games?
Vinny : No, I'm not surprised at all. I think the guys have battled all year. You know the last 15, 16, 18 games whatever we started getting healthy, we started playing better, and then we just tried to build on that.
We know how difficult Cleveland is, but we have an opportunity here at home to protect our home court and try to even this thing up. We know it's going to be a tough game and it'll come down to getting stops, and then making plays offensively, but I think all of those intangibles, the offensive rebounds, the second chance points, making free throws down the stretch; all those little things are going to be huge.
DH: With a little over three minutes left in the first half, you put James Johnson in the game, and he committed some fouls, and your team went from a one-point deficit to ten at the half and seemed to change the momentum of the game.
Vinny: For the few minutes Johnson played, he's guarded LeBron a little bit. He has a little bit more size, he moves his feet pretty well even though he's a rookie and his minutes have been inconsistent,. That's what we are as a team right now in terms of our depth and things. I don't regret that at all. Guys have to be ready to play. And no one is going to stop LeBron.
DH: Cleveland made almost 50 percent of their three-pointers today and have consistently outscored you from there the whole series. Is there anything that you can do in the way of an adjustment to try to combat that?
Vinny: The explanation is LeBron James. I thought we contested shots pretty good, but that's what they do all year. They give the ball to LeBron. They open up the court; he gets to the middle of the court and if you don't help, he's at the basket, or he's dumping it off, or he's getting you into foul trouble.
What do you think of my questions?
What would you have asked?
And do you think the Bulls still have a chance in this series?