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Bulls vs. Cavaliers preview: Chicago looks to bounce back in home opener

Second game of a back to back but Zach LaVine returns

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Chicago Bulls v Washington Wizards Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

It will be a quick turnaround for the Chicago Bulls after the loss to the Washington Wizards as they are set to play the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight at the United Center. It’s a special occasion as it’s the 2022-23 home opener and they got a positive injury update (for once) to go along with it.

After missing the first two games of the year, tonight will be the season debut for Zach LaVine.

This is a much needed return for the Bulls as they have been lacking a bit in offensive firepower, especially when DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic are not on the court.

LaVine coming back opens things up for Chicago offensively and gives them another top scoring presence. The three-point shooting, which wasn’t good against Washington, will also get a boost with him in the lineup. It remains to be seen if LaVine is limited in any way in terms of minutes or performance.

Tonight’s opponent will be the Cleveland Cavaliers. They are 0-1 on the season, having lost on Wednesday to the Raptors. Leading by eight heading into the fourth, they were outscored by 11 in the quarter and ultimately fell 108-105.

It was a big offseason for the Cavaliers as they acquired star guard Donovan Mitchell, adding firepower on what was already an emerging young core. Mitchell’s already made an impact with his new team, leading them in scoring with 31 points and nine assists in their season opener. Cleveland will be one of the teams Chicago will be fighting with in terms of playoff positioning, so winning these types of games can go a long way.

The Bulls will also have to find a way to deal with Evan Mobley on both ends of the court. Between him and Jarrett Allen, it could be a challenge for the Bulls to get easy shots at the rim. Chicago will have to try and stretch out Cleveland’s defense in order to open up driving lanes for LaVine, DeRozan, and even Ayo Dosunmu to attack. All eyes will be on Vucevic again as him winning his matchup against Allen will be key for the Bulls. Chicago will also have to try and limit second chance opportunities given the length of the Cavaliers starting lineup.

It will be a grueling game for the Bulls given they just played a close one in Washington. Billy Donovan’s rotations and some possible late game fatigue will be something else to watch for.

But there is a schedule break too: Cleveland will be shorthanded as Darius Garland has been ruled out with a left eye laceration. He suffered this injury against Toronto and did not return during that game.

Injury Report: Lonzo Ball is the only player on Chicago’s injury report as he recovers from left knee surgery. Other than Garland, the Cavaliers will be missing Ricky Rubio (ACL) and Dylan Windler (right ankle sprain)

Game Time: 7PM CT

TV: NBC Sports Chicago

Odds: The Bulls are underdogs in this game as the spread has Cleveland as a 1.5 point favorite. You can still find Chicago +1 at some books. The total is set at 219.5 but there are 220’s available as well (via the Action Network)