The Cleveland Cavaliers will look to bounce back from their opening night loss as they take on the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls will be on the second night of a back-to-back as they lost to the Washington Wizards 102-100 on the road last night.
Where: United Center - Chicago, IL
When: 8 p.m. EST
TV: Bally Sports Ohio, Bally Sports+, NBA League Pass
Opposing blog: Blog a Bull
Expected Cavs starting lineup: Donovan Mitchell / Isaac Okoro / Caris LeVert / Evan Mobley / Jarrett Allen
Cavs injury report: Darius Garland (OUT - eye), Ricky Rubio (OUT - ACL), Dylan Windler (OUT - ankle)
Expected Bulls starting lineup: Ayo Dosunmu / Zach LaVine / DeMar DeRozan / Patrick Williams / Nikola Vucevic
Bulls injury report: Lonzo Ball (OUT - knee)
Three things to watch
The Cavs are a top-heavy team. Their offense and defense will be driven by the play of their core four. However, when one of those players goes down, they will need someone else to step up. The Cavs weren’t able to get someone else to step up besides Cedi Osman in Wednesday’s loss to the Toronto Raptors.
Caris Levert, Isaac Okoro, Kevin Love, Dean Wade and Raul Neto played a combined 96 minutes while contributing just 26 points as a group. The Cavs need more out of that group and counting on 17 points from Osman isn’t something you can readily do. We’ll see if the supporting cast can bounce back tonight.
Offensive rebounding is one of the reasons the Bulls were able to pull out a win over the Miami Heat on Wednesday. Nikola Vucevic and Andre Drummond combined for 8 of the team’s 12 offensive rebounds in the win.
Conversely, the Cavs' lack of ability to end possessions is one of the things that did them in against the Raptors. Toronto collected 32.1% of their missed shots on Wednesday which led to 12 offensive rebounds.
It’s difficult to be a good defense if you can’t end possessions. The Cavs were an average rebounding team last season (12th in rebound percentage) but lost one of their best rebounders in Lauri Markkanen this off-season. They will need to do a better job of filling in that hole on the defensive end if they want to be a top-tier defense again this season.
Slowing down DeMar DeRozan
The Cavs finished last season 1-3 against the Bulls. Cleveland’s only win came in the one matchup DeRozan didn’t play. DeRozan averaged 25 points per game on 46.3% shooting with 5.3 assists in three games.
DeRozan started the season strong with a 37-point and 9-assist performance in a win against the Heat. DeRozan did most of his damage in the midrange while being guarded by Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro.
DeRozan followed that up with 32 points on 11 of 23 shooting with 6 assists, 6 boards and 3 turnovers in a loss to Washington on Friday night. He missed what would’ve been a game winning three-pointer at the buzzer.
The Cavs don’t have a ready solution for DeRozan. Isaac Okoro would be the logical choice, but he is coming off of a game where he had no points, rebounds, steals or assists and 4 personal fouls in just under 12 minutes of play. Caris LeVert will get a lot of time on DeRozan, but he also isn’t coming off of a great defensive performance against the Raptors. I would also expect Dean Wade and possibly Lamar Stevens to spend some time as DeRozan’s primary defender. The Cavs could also break out the 3-2 zone they used at the end of last season with Evan Mobley at the top of the zone in an attempt to keep DeRozan from easily getting to the top of the key.
Slowing down DeRozan is the top priority for the Cavs tonight. The Cavs don’t have many guards or wings that you’d feel comfortable on an island against a dynamic perimeter player. We’ll see if DeRozan can take advantage of that tonight as he did in their matchups last season.