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Chicago Bulls vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Preview and thread: another hugely important game for seeding

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NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Chicago Bulls Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bulls (42-31) at Cleveland Cavaliers (41-32)

With just nine games remaining on the schedule, here’s where we’re at.

The Bulls own the fifth best record in the Eastern Conference. But nipping at their heels just one game back of them is their opponent tonight the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Toronto Raptors.

Thankfully, the Bulls disposed of the Raptors a few nights ago in what was one of their biggest wins of the season so far. The Bulls won the season series 3-1 against the Raptors which is a major development with those two teams bunched so closely together in the standings this late in the season.

But with still nine games left to play, and the Bulls playing their absolute worst basketball of the season a lot can still happen. The Bulls are probably going to finish somewhere between five and seven in the East, but the fact that the seventh seed has to play in a play-in game adds an extra layer of importance to securing those top six seeds.

The Bulls can’t really beat anybody right now. They’re getting crushed by the good teams and are also losing to the bad teams. The effort a couple nights ago against a below-average New Orleans Pelicans team was piss poor after another poor effort against the Milwaukee Bucks just one game before. They are 3-7 in their last 10 games which is by far the worst record in that stretch of any team in the Eastern Conference that is currently in playoff position.

The Bulls defense doesn’t look that much better even with Alex Caruso and Patrick Williams back. DeMar DeRozan, who has really been carrying the Bulls all season to an extent that was probably never sustainable, is slumping a little bit. Zach LaVine doesn’t look quite right at the moment. Nikola Vucevic is playing better but has mostly been a disappointment all season.

But if there was ever a time for these guys to focus, put their head down and win a game it would be tonight against the Cleveland Cavaliers team that is just one game below them in the standings. They also lost their last game two nights ago, against the aforementioned Raptors.

The Bulls have won 2 games against the Cavs this season, but both were at home. They lost the other matchup on the road, and have been a terrible road team especially lately.

Injury Report:

DeMar DeRozan has been upgraded to ‘probable’ for this game. Alex Caruso also showed up on the injury report today with a back contusion, but is also probable.

For the Cavs, no Jarrett Allen, Rajon Rondo, or Dean Wade.

Odds:

The Bulls are listed as 2-point underdogs tonight, with the over/under set for the cumulative game score at 223 total points. (All info via DraftKings. Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.)

Game Time: NBC Sports Chicago; 7:00 CDT