David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
The Bulls are in search of their 11th straight win over the Cavs on Monday. Anderson Varejao will miss his 10th game in a row for Cleveland.
[Hey gang, there are still some openings left this month if you're interested in doing a game preview. And if you're interested in going to the actual games, use our partners if you want Chicago Bulls Tickets. -yfbb]
Ever since LeBron James left Cleveland for Miami, games between the Bulls and Cavaliers have been pretty ugly. Including two double-digit point victories this season, the Bulls have won 10 straight against their divisional foe, with the last nine of those wins coming by an average of 18.8 points. The Bulls will be looking for their 11th straight victory over the Cavs when Cleveland comes to the United Center tonight.
Based on recent results and generally on how awful the 8-27 Cavs have been this season, one would think this game would be a cakewalk. But based on how the Bulls have played in their last two home games against the Bobcats and Wizards, I guess we shouldn't take any of these games lightly. The Bulls shot 34.4 percent in those two games combined, and have gone just 9-8 at the United Center this season.
The Bulls looked much better in their last two games on the road against the Magic and Heat, and hope to continue that momentum on Monday. The Cavs' defense is one of the worst in the NBA with a defensive efficiency of 106.0, but again, the Bobcats are the worst defensive team in the league and we saw how that turned out. However, I do feel better about the Bulls' chances to play well offensively considering their success against the Cavs already this season. In the two wins this year, the Bulls have averaged 105 points. The Bulls shot 63.8 percent and dished out 34 assists in the first meeting, and Marco Belinelli scored a season-high 23 points in the second meeting.
A big part of the Bulls' success against the Magic and Heat was Carlos Boozer, who will look to continue his strong play and screw over the Cavs once again. In a phenomenal example of "Small Sample Size Theater," Boozer is averaging 29.0 points and 11.5 rebounds in 2013. Let's keep building that trade value Carlos!
The Cavs have lost four of their last five games, with the only win being a two-point win over the Bobcats. The Bulls will catch a break with Anderson Varejao sitting out [Luke Walton and Daniel Gibson are out for the Cavs as well -yfbb], as the center will miss his 10th straight game before possibly returning on Wednesday night. Varejao was having a career year before going down with a knee injury, averaging a league-high 14.4 rebounds. Second-year forward Tristan Thompson has stepped up nicely in Varejao's stead, notching seven double-doubles in his last nine games.
And of course, there's Kyrie Irving. Last season's Rookie of the Year has missed time with a hand injury (including the second Bulls/Cavs meeting), but when he has played, he's been pretty freaking great. Irving is averaging 23.4 points, 5.6 assists and 4.0 rebounds while shooting 46.0 percent from the field and 40.2 percent from three. Kirk Hinrich actually did a pretty nice job on Irving in the preseason and the first meeting, but I'm not going to bank on that again. Although I do recall Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio calling Hinrich "Irving's Kryptonite," which was really amusing.
Finally, new Bull Daequan Cook will be on the bench for the game tonight, but it's unlikely that he will see any action. Tom Thibodeau said after the Cook signing that the Bulls are "pretty much set" with the rotation, so it will be interesting to see what kind of time he gets moving forward.
Prediction: Bulls win somewhat handily, maybe Big Macs.
For more on the Cavs, check out Fear The Sword.