Chicago Bulls (17-8) at Cleveland Cavaliers (13-12)
The Cleveland Cavaliers have been a very streaky team so far this season.
They probably aren’t as bad as a recent five game skid would usually indicate (and to be fair they played some of the top teams in the league in that stretch and were missing Evan Mobley). Conversely, they probably aren’t as good as the four-game win streak that immediately followed that losing streak would normally indicate, even though they did beat the Miami Heat and the Washington Wizards.
It’s all evened out to a 13-12 record through 25 games, a vast improvement for a Cavaliers team that finished 22-50 (13th in the Eastern Conference) just a season ago.
Young guys lead the Cavaliers attack. Darius Garland has been one of the biggest surprises in the entire league, Evan Mobley is putting himself in the conversation for a Rookie of the Year Award, and Jarrett Allen is a double-double machine.
The Cavaliers have one distinct advantage over the Bulls tonight....
Bulls wildly shorthanded tonight against a Cavs team that plays huge. RELEASE THE MARKO!— Jason Patt (@Bulls_Jay) December 8, 2021
Of course, the wildly-shorthanded thing hasn’t hurt the Bulls too bad so far this season (knock on wood). Their last game against the Denver Nuggets qualifies as one of the best wins of the season simply because the Bulls were missing four or five key players and still managed to beat a very solid Denver Nuggets team with Nikola Jokic having a good game.
The aforementioned Jarrett Allen is a pest and is going to be a tough matchup for a Bulls team that is very small again. Our old buddy Lauri Markkanen is another player that helps the Cavs play huge, often in the lineup as the small forward. The Finnisher is averaging just under 15 points per game although his shooting percentages and rebounding totals still leave a lot to be desired.
The injury-riddled Bulls look to defy the odds again, although it seems like every time we’ve doubted the Bulls this year they have proven us wrong. That is why they are in second place in the Eastern Conference right now (and have beaten the first place Brooklyn Nets twice already).
The Chicago Bulls injury report reads like a list of reasons why Gar Forman and John Paxson should have been canned five years before they actually were: it’s very long.
DeMar DeRozan, Coby White, Javonte Green, and Matt Thomas are all listed on the health and safety protocol list. Alex Caruso is listed as doubtful, but is likely out as before last game the team said he’d “be evaluated in a week” for that hamstring issue.
As the Bulls have so many players out they qualified for a Hardship Exception, they have used that to bring in training camp attendee Stanley Johnson, though he is not available to play yet.
The Cavaliers injury report is significantly shorter. Star point guard Collin Sexton is out long-term with a meniscus injury which is really unfortunate because he is one of the brightest young stars in the league. Dean Wade is listed as questionable.
Game Time: 6:00 p.m. CDT; NBC Sports Chicago