The Cavaliers are coming off a thrilling loss to the Bucks where the bench overcame a 20-point deficit to nearly turn the tables. The Bulls are suddenly the hottest team in the league with seven straight wins directly following a 10-game losing streak, something that has never happened before in league history. It’s insanity, but it’s awesome.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers (23-9) at Chicago Bulls (10-20)
When: 7:00 p.m. ET
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
Enemy Blog: Blog A Bull
TV: Fox Sports Ohio
Online: Fox Sports Go, NBA League Pass
Cavs injuries: Isaiah Thomas (OUT - hip), Derrick Rose (OUT - ankle), Iman Shumpert (OUT - left knee), Tristan Thompson (TBD - calf)
Bulls injuries: Zach LaVine (OUT - knee), Cameron Payne (OUT - foot)
Three keys to the game:
- The Bulls are playing amazing basketball, and Nicola Mirotic is delivering the best individual play of his career after the front end of his season was lost by a strong right hook from Bobby Portis. Since Mirotic’s return, the Bulls haven’t lost, and Nico is averaging 19.6 points and 7.7 reboudns on 52.2 percent field goal shooting and 48.8 percent three-point shooting. That won’t continue to that degree, but the Cavs will have to work to slow him down, something they’ve struggled with in the past.
- The Cavs will have to battle their own recency bias. The team absolutely destroyed the Bulls at the United Center earlier in December, and the Bulls looked about as untalented and uncoordinated as a team could look. If they think they’re going to just run over the Bulls, they will likely be sorely mistaken.
- Kris Dunn has continued to be a true bright spot for Chicago, and he’s been one of the better sophomore redemption stories this year. He’s averaging 13.3 points and 5.3 assists and 4.8 rebounds and he’s not shooting horrifically from the field anymore. Combining that with his bulldog tendencies on defense, and we might have an honest-to-God NBA player and the Bulls trade of Jimmy Butler begins to look better every day.
The Bulls really don’t have anybody for LeBron. Wings like David Nwaba are fiesty defenders, and wings like Paul Zipser have the requisite size, but nobody on the team has the combination of size, athleticism, and instincts that it takes to even slow down LeBron James. James should cook against whoever Chicago throws on him.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction
The Cavaliers find their way into the win column and finally end the Bulls streak, but not without sweating it out. Cavs 115, Bulls 109.