[Thanks to Bullieving in Miami for today's game preview....kinda forgot there was a game! -yfbb]
The long and winding road has indeed produced many twists and turns this time around. You could say it started with somewhat of a bad omen with the news of Jimmy Butler missing the trip due to turf toe. Then they lost in Denver to kick it off. Sort of expected. Then the world fell apart. After that, the second half of this trip has been as blurry as what I would imagine the second act of a Vegas show would be were one so inclined to binge while in Las Vegas (I hear that's what happens out there). Seriously, can anyone actually remember what's happened since? Lots of "tanking" talk and turkey tasting. But hey, hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving holiday and survived their respective food comas.
The Bulls did somewhat salvage the Circus Trip 2013 A.R. (After Rose) by putting it to the Pistons. Really, though, that never gets old. This all brings us to tonight's game in Cleveland against the Cavs in what is the final act of a certainly forgettable Circus Trip. At 7-7 the season is literally teetering on going one way (lots of losing; complete disaster to some, joy for others) or well... kinda staying afloat like they are right now. Luckily, the Cavs are a well-timed opponent to help alleviate the blues, grab a win and finish the trip at a whatever 2-4.
The Cavs are indeed a remedy for losing. They've lost five in a row, 8 of 10, and find themselves one loss away from the cellar. They are fresh off a loss in Boston Friday night. That Anthony Bennet guy apparently played some (20 mins.) and recorded 4 shots, 4 points, 4 rebounds, 4 fouls, and 3 turnovers (almost had something there!), so I guess that's something. People were picking this team to be a playoff team this year? Really?
Now, the Bulls have already done a number on the Cavs this young season and look to put on a repeat performance in the Mistake by the Lake. Must be tough to carry the hopes of a section of the country referred to as the "Rust Belt". The fine people of Akron, Pittsburgh, Toledo, and Erie cheer on. Heck, even their jersey color wreaks of rust.
Seriously, would anyone blame Lebron for going all World Peace on this guy? Not to bring up an old topic (Heck, it's Cleveland, what else is there to talk about??? Plus, y'know, 2014 and all.)... however, I think this sect of Cavs fans are just setting themselves up for more disappointment and misplaced rage. While I do believe if Lebron ever returned to play in Cleveland and won a title it would be one of the all-time great redemption stories in sports, get over it, Cleveland. It's not going to happen. Lebron wanted to win and went where he thought he could win. Nothing against your city. I'm sure going to the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame is as fun the 20th time you go as the 1st.
OK, OK, enough Cleveland bashing. Jo does enough of that. They LOVE hime there.
The game. The Cavs come in sporting the second-worst offense in the NBA (96.3 Ortg). Sad admission, Central Division: 3 of the bottom five teams in the league in this category come from your column in the standings (CHI, MIL). Sad admission, Bulls: a fourth team in that same bottom 5, you just lost to them a couple games ago (UTA).
OK, so let's just go with life sucks in general in the Central Division. So what really ails Cleveland's offense? It all starts with their heralded PG, Kyrie Irving. He's shooting under 41% from the field overall (hey, they only shoot .415 as a team) and then getting betrayed by poor shooting teammates for a relatively low 5.9 APG. But is it all shooting for this team? If anything, what kind of looks is Kyrie creating for his teammates? Per nba.com, the Cavs take the 4th-most FGA from mid-range, which is a lost art these days, so not the most efficient shot selection. It gets better. The closer you get to the rim, the lower they rank (10th from in the paint, 29th(!) in the restricted area). Horrible for a team sporting Andrew Bynum and an up-and-coming Tristan Thompson. The team is also ranked 25th in FT/FGA (according to BR.com), suggesting they just aren't getting anything going towards the rim off cuts and such. Maybe instead of a mask like Rip, Kyrie should sport the Uncle Drew look on the court. That, and bring out the guys from that playground as well. That should cure Kyrie's ills.
This game might also serve as an audition for Dion Waiters to us Bulls fans with the rumors that Chicago may be a landing spot for the second-year man should he get traded. Sure, going to a more structured, regimented team like the Bulls could be the sort of change a guy like Waiters needs... and other times there is no cure for poor shooting. Thought Kyrie was bad?* Waiters doesn't even break 40% overall and struggles at the line as well (.667). His one redeeming quality at the moment is his 3pt% (.388). It's not Korver but you take that from an athletic SG (we'd take it from Jimmy, no?). So who knows with him. Again, a change in scenery could help him better define a role for himself in the NBA and get him going on his ultimate career path.
*(I could almost give him a pass like I would give Rose a pass because they operate with the ball in their hands so much it usually makes for tougher looks)
Anyways, I think the Bulls win. They apparently spent the holiday at home so they could be somewhat refreshed and in higher spirits after getting gut-punched a week ago. Coming off the win in Detroit, I'm looking for them to regain their focus after getting the taste of winning basketball again. If this team is really going to lose, might as well just let it happen on its own rather than do all this "tanking" talk. Besides, have you looked at the standings lately? Toronto is in first place in their division... at 6-9! The Bulls are going to get wins. It's unavoidable.
Gametime @6:30pm CST.