Chicago Bulls (27-15) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (27-18)
Not Michael Jordan. Unfortunately. Because right now the Bulls could really use No. 23 coming out of the tunnel. You think he’s in shape enough these days to play power forward?
Jokes aside, the Bulls do get some good news today in the return department. After missing what feels like forever with an injury and then COVID-19, Alex Caruso is supposed to play tonight.
The Bald Mamba hasn’t suited up since the day after Christmas. Unsurprisingly, the Bulls defense has taken a hit without (arguably) their best defender on the floor. Since Dec. 26, their team defensive rating has slipped to 115.4 which is the 24th best mark in the NBA in that stretch.
So, having Caruso back certainly helps and of course he does a lot more for this team than just playing good defense.
Right now, things are kind of a disaster. The Bulls have dropped four games in a row (their longest losing streak of the season) and have lost five of their last six games.
Three of those games felt like measuring stick matchups against some of the best teams in the entire league. The Bulls lost those three games by an average of 27 points and also in that stretch dropped winnable games against the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks just for good measure.
On top of all that, the Bulls have virtually no power forward depth on their roster right now, with Alfonzo McKinnie getting starts. Plus Lonzo Ball and Zach LaVine continue to sit out with knee soreness.
Maybe the biggest concern about this losing streak is how lifeless and psychologically damaged the Bulls have looked throughout it. The Bulls were playing with so much confidence and swagger earlier in the season that it’s almost jarring to see them play the way they are right now.
After all, that nine-game win streak thrill ride we were on ended less than two weeks ago.
The Bulls need a win in the worse way possible against the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight. Unfortunately, gone are the days when the Cleveland Cavaliers were pushovers.
The Cavaliers currently sit at No. 4 in the Eastern Conference, have the same amount of wins as the Bulls, and are doing this even though Collin Sexton went out with a meniscus tear early on in the season.
Certainly, this is the best Cavaliers team this century that didn’t have LeBron James on it.
So, the Bulls are going to have their work cut out for them tonight if they want to get back into that win column. Maybe playing against Lauri Markkanen will motivate them.
Beyond Caruso, Tyler Cook is also available to play after being out with a sprained ankle suffered on New Years Day. He suited up for the GLeague team last night. Marko Simonovic was also with the GLeague but is staying there for now.
For the Cavs, they are PG-deprived behind Garland. Both Ricky Rubio and Collin Sexton are out after knee surgeries, and former Chicago Bulls great Rajon Rondo is listed as out with right hamstring soreness.
Game Time: NBC Sports Chicago; 7:00 CDT