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Jimmy Butler and LeBron James sitting out Bulls-Cavs preseason game

A normally-heated rivalry pumps the brakes tonight as Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade, and LeBron James will all sit.

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Cleveland Cavaliers Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight, the Chicago Bulls will take on the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers—pardon, I just mentally vomited typing that—at the United Center nearly a week removed from their previous contest versus the Indiana Pacers. Unfortunately for fans such as myself that are attending the game, most of tonight’s stars are expected to sit; including Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade, and LeBron James. The good news is we’re in for a fun Kyrie Irving/Rajon Rondo stat-padding duel while Tristan Thompson is likely to pull down twenty offensive rebounds.

Jokes aside, this should be one of the more entertaining games we see this preseason. The Cavs have yet to really be tested after coasting to victories over bottom-feeders in the Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers before dropping one to the Atlanta Hawks on Monday. Conversely, the Bulls seemed to get back on track at home last Saturday night after dropping their first two games, and are also coming off a week of practice that I’m sure head coach Marc Trestman—er, Fred Hoiberg—would describe as their best yet!

Some other things to keep an eye out for tonight:

  • Mike Dunleavy Jr. in a Cavs jersey is going to sting. Even though his departure ultimately allowed the Bulls to acquire Wade, it’s nevertheless going to be a sad sight for Bulls fans to see MDJ playing for the enemy after being one of the most beloved and consistent players during his tenure in Chicago.
  • The aforementioned Kyrie Irving/Rajon Rondo duel is going to be hilarious. Both of them are going to be the focal points of their repsective offenses tonight given their significant others are sitting, and neither one of them can defend each other. It’s going to be a layup contest from start to finish.
  • No more Matthew Dellavedova. Good riddance.
  • It pains me to say this (as does any complement I have to pay Cleveland), but the Cavs probably got the steal of the second round in Kay Felder. Felder may only be 5’9”, but still managed to average a line of 24/9/4 points/assists/rebounds on 44% shooting during his final year at Oakland University. He also absolutely eviscerated the Bulls in their summer league game this past July. Depending on who the Bulls go with at backup point guard, Felder may go off again tonight. I would hope Fred Hoiberg elects to have 6’6” Spencer Dinwiddie defend him, although with Wade sitting it’s likely we’ll see Dinwiddie get some extended burn at shooting guard tonight. Let’s hope Jerian Grant and Isaiah Canaan are up to the task.
  • Taj Gibson will start at the four tonight. Between himself, Nikola Mirotic, and Bobby Portis; Gibson has by far looked the most impressive through three games, although some experts believe the starting job at this point may be best suited for Portis.
  • Denzel Valentine and Tony Snell are still out with ankle sprains. For the Cavs, Channing Frye will be out with his own minor ankle injury.

That’s about all I’ve got. We’re less than two weeks away from the Bulls’ regular season tip-off against the Boston Celtics, so enjoy these preseason games while they last! After tonight, there’s only three more before the Bulls get another week off. As for predictions, I’ll say first team to 100 tonight wins. Bring on the Big Macs.

Tip is at 7:00 PM CT and the game can be viewed on Comcast SportsNet+.