Update: Kyrie Irving (knee) is out tonight for the Cavaliers.
Cleveland Cavaliers Status Check:
Road Record: 8-22
Last 10 Games: 5-5
Streak: Lost 1
Last game: 109-105 loss to Miami
PPG: 97.6 (14th)
Opponents PPG: 101.2 (23rd)
Offensive Rating: 105.5 (13th)
Defensive Rating: 109.4 (28th)
Pace: 92.2 (12th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .475 (24th)
Turnover Percentage: .148 (3rd)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .719 (27th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .290 (8th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .203 (18th)
Opp. eFG%: .524 (30th)
Opp. TO%: .148 (3rd)
Opp. FT/FGA: .228 (26th)
Leading scorer: Kyrie Irving (23.3)
Stats from Basketball-Reference
Cleveland Injury Report:
Omri Casspi: out (appendectomy)
Daniel Gibson: doubtful (personal reasons)
Kyrie Irving: out (knee)
Anderson Varejao: out (surgery)
The Bulls have fallen to sixth in the Eastern Conference after their loss to Oklahoma City, which was the worst shooting performance by any team this season. In the tough stretch that the Bulls find themselves in, they have two very winnable games, against the Cavaliers, who are last place in the Central Division and Sixers at home.
Before we get into the matchup, the somewhat obligatory Bulls injury update has some bad news. Taj Gibson suffered an MCL sprain, and could be out two weeks.
Back to the Bulls opponents, they have back-to-back games against non-playoff teams. First up: Kyrie Irving and Cleveland, who are coming off a loss to the streaking Heat. Miami blew a 22-point second half lead before rallying in the fourth quarter to win its eleventh straight.
Kyrie had a poor shooting night, going 6-16 from the field for 17 points, as he battled through a sore right knee. He isn’t expected to miss any time because of the injury, but the Bulls need all the help they can get with Nate Robinson possibly starting against Irving. An injured knee is more of a defender than Nate will ever be, sadly.
While Kyrie struggled, Dion Waiters, surprisingly was efficient, dropping 26 points on 17 shots. As a team the Cavs shot 50 percent from the field, but Miami finished at 52 percent and hit 63.2 percent of their threes.
Although the Heat mounted a comeback in the final eight minutes against Cleveland, it’s important for the Bulls to build a sizable lead early in this one, to avoid the fourth quarter monster that is Kyrie Irving. Irving averages 6.9 points per fourth quarter, in 7.3 minutes of playing time.
Chicago should be able to shoot better against Cleveland, who is 28th in defensive rating and last in opponent effective field goal percentage. The Bulls have scored 72 or fewer points in three of their last five games. Nobody shot well last game, but Luol Deng, who is shooting 38 percent in February, and Carlos Boozer, who is shooting a season-worst 43.6 percent this month, need to start scoring. With Gibson sidelined for some time, Boozer will have more of a chance to get his offense going. Or just more chances to scream about rebounds. Either way, it’s exciting.
This is the last time the Bulls and Cavs will meet this season. The Bulls have taken all three previous match-ups. Boozer is averaging 17.7 points on 52.8 shooting against Cleveland this season and Deng is chipping in 18.3 points , while shooting 60.6 from the field. That is the best field goal percentage against any team this season for Lu. Boozer and Deng have had help in each of the games. Rip Hamilton dropped 19 in the first meeting, Marco Belinelli scored 23 in the second and Belinelli and Nate Robinson combined for 29 off the bench in the most recent contest. Irving scored 15 points against Chicago in both games he’s play against them this season.
Cleveland is shooting 39.7 percent against the Bulls this year and getting out-rebounded by nearly nine per game. The Bulls, on the other hand, are scoring 109.3 points per game against Cleveland, their best against any team this season. So, it seems, if the Bulls are going to find a way out of their offensive funk, Cleveland came up on the schedule at a good time.
“It’s not the time to feel sorry for ourselves,” Noah said after the loss to Oklahoma City. “We’ve got a home stretch coming up and things move fast in this league. We’ve got to bounce back fast.”
Things do happen fast in this league. The Bulls are finding themselves slipping in the rankings as their injuries continue to pile up. They have two possible bounce back games before their schedule switches back to a stretch of playoff teams. The Bulls need to grab the easier ones when they are available.
Stat of the night: The Bulls shot 63.8 percent against Cleveland on November 2, the highest field goal percentage by any team this season, according to StatsLLC.