Who? Chicago Bulls at Cleveland Cavaliers
When? 7:00 p.m.
Where? Schottenstien Center, Columbus Ohio
Where on my eyeballs? Fox Sports Ohio
Things to look for:
LeBron James had begun to develop a rivalry with the Chicago Bulls when he first went to Miami, but unfortunately the momentum was drained from those matchups with the various injuries that Bulls star Derrick Rose suffered. Now with Rose back and a strong supporting cast, the Bulls once again appear to be the most challenging contender for LeBron and the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference. It will be interesting to see if the Bulls try to send a message early on, or if they will chill out and realize that this is just a preseason game.
Speaking of chill out, Tom Thibodeau has been playing his starters a fair bit to this point in the preseason. Last night his starters, with the exception of the injured Jimmy Butler, played the bulk of the fourth quarter in a tight game against the Charlotte Hornets. It will be interesting to see if they will receive fewer minutes tonight or if Thibs will go for the win once again. If the Bulls do decide to again give their starters around 30 minutes, it'll be interesting to see if David Blatt decides to give some of the Cavs starters more minutes out of sheer competitiveness.
The matchup between two of the leagues elite point guards in Kyrie Irving and Derrick Rose should be a lot of fun to watch. The two point guards have almost never shared an NBA court at the same time due to various injuries suffered by both players. They were also the two point guards for team USA with Irving assuming the starting role and eventually tournament MVP over a rehabilitating Rose. Rose is notoriously competitive and will likely look to re-establish himself among the leagues elite, and there is no better opportunity for him to try and do so than against a rising star in Irving. Of course, Kyrie might have something to say about that.
The battle inside will also be one of the keys to this game and the eventual season series between these two teams. Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah are two very solid centers, who make up the twin tower look that Chicago starts games with. Whether or not Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love can properly defend the pair will have an impact on how difficult it is for the Cavs to get past the Bulls. Conversley, whether or not either of the two can contain Love or the activity of Thompson will also be interesting to watch. Bench super subs Taj Gibson and Anderson Varejao appear to solve some of the defensive questions surrounding each starting pairing. With Gibson's speed and Varejao's size, it makes up for what the starting units might lack on defense. So it will be interesting to see how both coaches chose to deploy their benches, or starters for that matter.
Fear the Sword's Fearless Prediction:
Depth matters in both in the preseason and regular season. But certainly more so in the preseason. Cavs get a boost from their bench and win 105-95.