The Cavaliers are coming off a tough 114-111 overtime win against the Milwaukee Bucks. There's not really any reason that the Cavs should have needed overtime to beat the 5-21 Bucks at home, but they did. Hey, a win is a win. I'll take an actual victory over a moral victory anyway. The question now is: can the Cavs win on the road?
When? 8:00 PM Eastern
Where? United Center -- Chicago, IL
Where on my eyeballs? Fox Sports Ohio / NBATV
The Cavs are 2-11 on the road. That isn't good. Only the Philadelphia 76ers have fewer road wins and they are very bad. You know who else is bad? The Chicago Bulls. They entered the season thinking that they would have Derrick Rose back and could reemerge as the biggest challenger to the Miami Heat. Instead, Rose got hurt again. And then everybody else on their roster got hurt. Next thing you know, they're starting D.J. Augustin at point guard. Yes, the same D.J. Augustin that got cut by the Toronto Raptors earlier this year. The Bulls have lost 8 of their last 10 games...this is a team that the Cavs should beat. The only problem is that the game is not at Quicken Loans Arena.
It's pretty hard to figure out why the Cavs have been so atrocious on the road when they've been a solid 8-4 at home. But the Cavs are worse in pretty much every metric when they aren't in Cleveland. Despite how much the Bulls are struggling, this would be a good win. It's the 2nd night of a back to back and it would be a great example of "taking care of business." I think that's the next logical step in this team's maturation and progression. If you want to be a solid playoff team, you need to win the games that you're supposed to win. With Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich, Jimmy Butler, and Derrick Rose all hurt...nobody should lose to the Bulls.
Dion Waiters is a game time decision after missing last night's game with a wrist injury. It would certainly help the offensively challenged Cavs if they had Waiters tonight. He's been playing much better lately and Kyrie Irving really needs somebody to help shoulder some of the offensive load. Kyrie was magnificent last night, scoring 39 points -- but he did it with the flu and there's no way that he's feeling particularly energetic tonight. Kyrie will play, however. Anthony Bennett is also sick and he did not travel with the team.
Last night was a nice game for Earl Clark and I'm looking forward to seeing more from him. His length makes him very versatile on defense and his three-point shooting seems much improved. Is he actually a 45.8% shooter from behind the arc? It seems unlikely. But he's been great in that department so far. I like what he brings to the team and would like to see him play more than he has been. I think the lineup of Kyrie-Dion-Miles-Clark-Varejao would be interesting. It'd easily be one of Cleveland's best "spacing" lineups. If they could keep the ball moving, I think that lineup would really do some damage offensively.
The Cavs are quietly making their way up the offensive efficiency rankings. They're now 25th out of 30 and seem to be trending upwards.The Bulls are 29th out of 30. Chicago hasn't scored over 95 points in a game since December 5th. I don't expect this game to be high-scoring, but the Cavs will need to make shots. Even though the Bulls aren't the same team that they used to be, they're still well-coached defensively. If you can make some jump shots and score consistently, you can beat the Bulls. They have nobody that can create offense and the Cavs need to make sure that they don't make it easy for Chicago on either side of the ball.
Andrew Bynum dominated against the Bulls last time these two teams played. Can he do it again? I guess we'll find out in a few hours, won't we?
The 2013-14 Chicago Bulls are really terrible to watch. The 2013-14 Cavaliers are sometimes really terrible to watch. I'm sure that NBATV is thrilled to have this game on tonight. I'm so sorry for any non-Cavs or Bulls fan that has to watch this. I'm so so sorry.
Fear the Sword's Fearless Prediction
This game will be really ugly and not very fun to watch. That's my prediction.