The Chicago Bulls currently hold the best record in the NBA at 13-3 and will be a tough test for the young Cavaliers when they visit Quicken Loans Arena on Friday night. The 6-7 Cavaliers will look to reach .500 again, but the Bulls, led by Derrick Rose, are not easily beaten. After a couple days of rest, we'll see if Byron Scott is able to get his young squad ready to knock off the defending MVP and company.
Song Of The Day: Fantasy - Earth, Wind, & Fire
Just a great song.
Chicago Bulls (13-3) at Cleveland Cavaliers (6-7)
The big story in this game is the matchup between the two point guards. Defending MVP, Derrick Rose, versus rising star, Kyrie Irving. Unfortunately, we may be robbed of this encounter. Rose has been suffering from turf toe for the past week and has missed a couple fames during that span. Honestly, the Bulls would be wise to keep their superstar on the bench and let him get healthy. It's a rough schedule and the Bulls have their sights on bigger things than regular season success. As a fan of the game, I want Rose to play. There's nothing better than seeing how our rookie point guard matches up with one of the game's elites. Rose will not participate in today's shoot around and is a game time decision. If he doesn't play, CJ Watson will probably get the start.
Other than Rose, the Bulls rely on the strength of their defense to stifle teams. Chicago is allowing a league low, 85.8 points per game and has a defensive rating of 96.0, which ranks 2nd best in the league. It goes without saying that such an elite defense will pose some problems for the Cavaliers. Other than Irving, the Cavs have struggled to get consistent contributions on the offensive side of the ball. Antawn Jamison is probably the Cavaliers' second most reliable scorer. If you go back and re-read that sentence, you'll understand why I'm having a hard time resisting the urge to light myself on fire. Fortunately for Cleveland, Carlos Boozer plays some of the most pathetic defense of any power forward in the league. Watching Jamison and Boozer face off will likely be one of the more hilarious things that we see all season.
Omri Casspi has played much better as of late, but may have a difficult time continuing that trend against one of the better defensive small forwards in the league in Luol Deng. Deng is just one of many solid defenders on this Chicago roster. If Casspi intends to play well, he needs to stay aggressive and force the issue. Attacking the basket and drawing fouls will go a long towards opening up other facets of his game. It is when Casspi stands out near the three point line that the offense gets stagnant and nothing gets accomplished. If you're reading this, Omri, don't do that. Attack.
Anthony Parker is still day-to-day with a sore back, but if he does play, he will have the task of guarding the newest member of the Bulls, Rip Hamilton. Rip was acquired by the Bulls to try to add some punch their offense which is relatively punch-less other than Rose. The best way to describe Hamilton's contributions up to this point is "meh". He's scoring 12.2 points per game and has a Player Efficiency Rating of 14.7, just below average. If Parker is unable to go, look for Daniel Gibson to once again get extended minutes and to see more combo guard lineups using any combination of Irving-Sessions-Gibson.
It's no secret that there is a strong correlation between rebounding, specifically offensive rebounding, and winning games. It's pretty simple, really. If you get your team more possessions than your opponent, you have a better chance to score more often. In this matchup, we have two of the best offensive rebounders in the league. Both Noah and Varejao are near the top of the league in ORB%. Varejao has the third most offensive boards this season while Noah ranks 7th. I'll be keeping my eye on the two guys with the crazy hair.
Fear The Sword's Fearless Prediction:
Erghhhh, this is tough. Because I am making this prediction without the knowledge of whether Derrick Rose will play or not, I'm going to assume he is playing. I know that logic doesn't make a ton of sense, but I basically don't want to have to factor John Lucas III into my prediction. Therefore, I think the Cavs will struggle to crack Tom Thibodeau's strong defense and lose to the Bulls by a score of 94-83.