Cavaliers-Bulls Preview

Cleveland Cavaliers Status Check:
Record: 8-27
Division: 1-8
Conference: 6-17
Road Record: 5-15
Last 10 Games: 3-7
Streak: Lost 1
Last game: 112-104 loss to Houston
PPG: 94.5 (23rd)
Opponents PPG: 99.8 (24th)
Offensive Rating: 102.3 (24th)
Defensive Rating: 108.0 (26th)
Pace: 91.8 (13th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .462 (27th)
Turnover Percentage: .139 (14th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .734 (13th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .299 (7th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .193 (22nd)
Opp. eFG%: .517 (30th)
Opp. TO%: .147 (6th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .244 (29th)
Leading scorer: Kyrie Irving (23.4)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

Cavaliers Injury Report:
Daniel Gibson: expected to be out (concussion)
Anderson Varejao: out (bruised knee)

Overview:
The Bulls put in what was probably their best effort of the season last time out and topped the Miami Heat in a seven-point victory. It put an end to a run of two weeks and five games that the Bulls looked flat. Chicago went 2-3 over that stretch with a loss, most notably, to the Bobcats that ended Charlotte’s 18-game losing streak. The win over the Heat, to push the Bulls to 18-13, was a step in the right direction for a team that has looked lost for a few weeks.

Hopefully the Bulls will be able to build on this game. They love playing the Heat and are 6-2 against Miami during the regular season in the Big Three era. But LeBron James and company hasn’t been playing great basketball, going 2-3 over their last five games, with their two wins coming in overtime and their other losses coming against Detroit and Milwaukee.

Normally it would be fair to say that a Chicago-Miami meeting would be a game that both teams got pumped for. That’s still true for Chicago, because the Heat are the defending champions and the team to beat in the league. But without Rose, I can’t imagine Miami still views the Bulls in the same way. That’s not to say it wasn’t a great win, because it absolutely was, especially considering the Bulls’ recent play. However this one meant more to the Bulls and they played like it.

Wanting it more showed itself on the glass in this game, with Chicago outrebounding Miami 48-28. But where the Bulls really did their damage was on the offensive glass. They pulled down 19 O-boards to Miami’s 4, which translated to 20 second chance points for the Bulls. Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah each grabbed six offensive rebounds and Taj Gibson snagged five. Boozington finished with 27 points and 12 rebounds, Joakim Noah recorded 13 points and 12 boards and Hinrich dished ten assists to go with eight points.

Chicago now takes on the last place team in the Central Division—the Cavaliers—who are just 1-8 against the division this year. Kyrie Irving, much like Derrick Rose usually does, has been carrying the Cavs. Irving is averaging 23.5 points and 5.6 assists per game.

Tonight also gives the Bulls a chance to improve their poor home record. Chicago is just 9-8 in the United Center this season, compared to 9-5 on the road. The Bulls had the third best home record last season and the best in 2010-2011. Chicago’s last home game was the streak-breaking loss to Charlotte.

The Bulls have already topped Cleveland twice this year, both wins coming on the road by double digits. The Bulls have held the Cavs to 85.5 points in the two games on less than 40 percent shooting. It’s not going to make it any easier for Cleveland as Anderson Varejao, the league’s leading rebounder who also scores 14.1 points per game, is expected to miss his 10th straight game due to a bruised knee.

The Bulls are coming off their best win of the year, and it put an end to a two week slump. Now Chicago needs to avoid a letdown against a lesser team.

Stat of the night: The Bulls have won ten straight against the Cavs, with the last nine coming by an average 18.8 points per contest, according to STATS LLC.

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