The last time the Cleveland Cavaliers played the Chicago Bulls, it was the loss that broke the camels back. The Cavs had lost two straight games coming in, and after another sloppy loss to the Bulls, the honeymoon was over.
Since that game, things have changed for both teams. The Cavaliers haven’t lost a game since that night when LeBron James is in the lineup, while the Bulls have been hit with a case of regression and are on the wrong side of .500.
Who? Cleveland Cavaliers (26-7) vs Chicago Bulls (17-18)
When? 8:00 p.m.
Where? Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio
Where on my eyeballs? ESPN
The status of Kyrie Irving has not yet been disclosed heading into Wednesday’s matchup, but as of right now he is listed as questionable. In his absence, the Cavs have actually received from decent play from Kay Felder and Jordan McRae. Felder currently has a streak of four straight appearances with double digit points, and is shooting 53.1 percent over that stretch. While it isn’t anything to get too excited about, it’s far better than him not performing with extended minutes.
While the severity of Irving’s injury is unclear, this is a good portion of the schedule for him to miss. The Cavs were able to get by the Hornets without him, as well as the Pelicans. The next three opponents on the schedule are all below .500 (Bulls, Nets, Suns) and could allow the Cavs to take their time and make sure Irving is right.
With or without him, the Cavs will need to manage the ball better than they did the last time they played the Bulls. A combination of lazy turnovers, as well as easy access to the paint dug the team a hole they were unable to dig out of. The Bulls lack consistent floor spacing, and can struggle to create in the halfcourt. So if you don’t allow Rondo, Wade, and Butler to pick off passes and get out in transition, you can help limit the effectiveness of the Bulls attack.
The other key to the game would come down to the battle on the board. The Bulls had a 16-6 advantage on the offensive glass the last time these teams met. When you combine that and the advantage in the fastbreak, it becomes clear how the Cavs managed to be taken down by the Bulls. If they are indeed short on firepower with a resting Irving, they can ill-afford to spot Chicago points and extra possessions, as they have shown themselves to be capable of closing if given the opportunity.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction:
At 18-2, the Cavaliers have the best home record in the NBA. Even if they are down two starters, the one-two punch of LeBron and Kevin Love is a lot for any team to handle. The Cavs have more than enough weapons to get past the Bulls and I expect them to be looking for some revenge. Cavs win 104-95.
UPDATE: Kevin Love is questionable to play against the Bulls as a result of illness. LeBron James missed shootaround as a result of the flu, but his status has not been determined for tonight. Please ignore everything I wrote if none of the ‘Big Three’ play.