Game Preview #17 - Bulls at Cleveland Cavaliers


[Thanks to 'wjb1492' for today's game preview -ed.]

Roughly a month ago, the Bulls and Cavs played the first of their 4 season games, with the Bulls somehow sneaking out of Cleveland with a 1 point win.  Tonight they play their second game, also @ Cleveland, and even for a raving optimist this game doesn't seem promising.  Why?  Well, if you really have to ask, you're either a total homer or a basketball idiot.  But read on anyway....

  • The first Cleveland game was the Bulls 5th game of the season, with the W moving Chicago to a record of 3-2.  The L for the Cavs left them at 3-3, and also left people wondering whether signing Shaq was going to prove disastrous.  Since that win, the Bulls have gone 4 and 7, with an average margin of non-victory of -5.5 following several blowout losses to very good teams.  Meanwhile, the Cavs have gone 10 and 2 with an average scoring margin of +5.9.  Their last two games include big wins over Dallas and Phoenix. Needless to say, these teams have gone in opposite directions since the first game, and the Bulls definitely took the less desirable path.
  • On top of that, the Bulls will be playing without Tyrus Thomas and Kirk Hinrich again.  Last game the two chipped in 15 points on 50% shooting, 4 assists, 7 rebounds, a steal, and a block.  Tyrus and Kirk both have their detractors around these parts, but when the alternatives are Lindsey Hunter (-2.95 PER) and lots of minutes for Taj Gibson anyone trying to be the least bit objective has to acknowledge the team is missing some important pieces.  Debate whether they should be traded for different pieces all you want, so long as they're on the team we could really use them healthy and contributing.
  • The Bulls are currently 27th in offensive rating and 12th in defensive; the Cavs 12th in offensive and 7th in defensive.  Hollinger ranks the Cavs 8th in the NBA right now, and the Bulls 21st.  Pretty much any way you slice it up, the Cavs are currently a better team.  And the game's in their house.
  • So given all that, it's not surprising that accuscore is predicting a big win for the Cavs tonight.  Cleveland won over 90% of the simulations, 68% of them by more than 10 points.  The projected score is Cleveland 101, Chicago 85.

What makes this game worth watching?  Well, for many of us, it's just what you do when the Bulls play, hoping for one of those nights when the ball fall right.  After all, amongst all those wins, the Cavs do have losses to Charlotte, Washington, Toronto, and us.  Other than that, Derrick has been looking better lately, and there's always the fascinating saga of Vinny's rotations.  With 6 DNPs this season, will JJ get a few minutes tonight?  Will Joakim get any rest whatsoever?  How long will Lindsey play, how many fouls can he pick up in those minutes, and will he score at all?  Will Taj foul out again (3 so far this season)?  If Jannero can go with his hip/back thing, how many shots can he jack up?  Will Aaron get a chance to narrow the scoring race with Lindsey (now trails 5 to 1)?  Anyone who says Bulls basketball is boring just isn't creative in what they watch for.  ;)

Check out the Cavs' coverage at Fear the Sword.

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