Cleveland Cavaliers Status Check:
Home Record: 11-28
Last 10 Games: 4-6
Streak: Won 2
Last game: Won 104-96 over Toronto
PPG: 95.3 (25th)
Opponents PPG: 104.8 (24th)
Offensive Rating: 101.9 (29th)
Defensive Rating: 112.0 (29th)
Pace: 93.1 (11th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .472 (28th)
Turnover Percentage: .134 (17th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .733 (19th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .242 (25th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .232 (11th)
Opp. eFG%: .524 (28th)
Opp. TO%: .126 (24th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .213 (6th)
Leading scorer: Antawn Jamison (18.0)
Stats from Basketball-Reference.com.
Cleveland Injury Report:
Semih Erden: strained right adductor/groin/shoulder (out indefinitely)
Antawn Jamison: left pinky surgery (out for the season)
Anderson Varejao: right ankle surgery (out for the season)
Samardo Samuels: strained left groin (doubtful for tonight’s game)
So, what do the Bulls get for beating the Celtics? A back-to-back against the Cavs! After topping Boston, Chicago’s magic number for the top seed in the East is one. The Bulls can clinch the top seed with a win or a Celtic’s loss. And while the Bulls are fighting for that top seed still, the Cavs are fighting for…ping-pong balls.
Chicago held the Celtics to 38.4 percent from the field and 20 percent from behind the arc. Ray Allen was 0-3 from downtown, while Derrick Rose was 2-5. I’m just sayin’ (sarcasm!). Only two Celtics starters scored in double figures (Jeff Green came off the bench for 10 as well).
The Cavaliers are bad, everyone knows that. They have won two in a row, but that only gets them to the 17 win mark; a mark the Bulls reached in their last 19 games. That two game win streak is Cleveland’s first such streak since early November. Chicago should win this game handily. Hopefully they get out ahead early, so the starters can rest (if Thibs will ever allow them to rest a little).
But will it be that easy? About the time you would expect the Cavs to give up, when they are way, way out of playoff contention (OK that happened in December) and the end of the season is nearing; Cleveland has won four of its last ten. It’s nice to see a team not tanking in the end of the season, trying to get a better lottery number (or maybe the Cavs are just bad at tanking too?).
The Bulls can sweep Cleveland tonight, and close out a one-loss divisional record. Chicago won the first three match-ups with Cleveland by an average of nine points per game—not exactly the most convincing wins over the second worst team in the NBA. Two of the previous games were the second night of back-to-backs.
That is once again the case. Chicago is an impressive 16-5 on no rest. Noah didn’t play big minutes partly because his ankle was still clearly bothering him (26), and Bogans never plays big minutes (17). But Boozer (36) and Rose (40) both were in for a lot of time, and they were still playing in the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach. Deng logged 97 minutes. Just kidding, Luol actually got a light night for facing a good team, playing 37 minutes. Tired legs really shouldn’t be a problem. The Bulls starters shouldn’t have to play long to get a nice lead, and then take the bench to rest and heal (Noah).
If Rose dominated Rondo and one of the league’s best defenses, what is he going to do against Ramon Sessions and Baron Davis? He has averaged 27 points and 9 assists in the previous games against Cleveland this season.
One win to rule the East.
Bulls on the road:
Chicago has won eight of nine on the road and four straight by an average of 15.7 points while shooting 51.6 percent, according to Stats LLC.
About the Author:
Braedan Ritter was born and raised in Pennsylvania but was swayed by gifts from his aunt to follow the Chicago sports teams. It didn’t hurt that the Bulls had a guy named Michael Jordan playing for them, and the Sixers had…Derrick Coleman. Braedan has stuck with Chicago through thick and thin, and really thin (see: Chicago Cubs). And speaking of Coleman, Braedan is currently a student at Syracuse University.