GameDay Preview: Cavs at Bulls

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Tristan Thompson
Jonathan Daniel/NBAE/GettyImages

Game Summary

The Wine and Gold visit the Windy City tonight to take on the Chicago Bulls at the United Center. Tipoff is at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Cleveland (10-15) comes into tonight's matchup having won six out of their last nine games including last night's 114-111 overtime thriller against the Milwaukee Bucks at The Q.

Over that nine game stretch, the Cavaliers offense has been firing on all cylinders, averaging 103 points per game.

Chicago (9-16) has lost their last four games and has hit the injury bug. The Bulls played their most recent game on Thursday without Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich, and All-Star point guard Derrick Rose (Out for the Season). Jimmy Butler was also forced to leave Thursday's 107-95 loss at Oklahoma City after hurting his right ankle.

Probable Starters/Injury Report* presented by Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland ClinicCavaliers: PG - Kyrie Irving, SG - C.J. Miles, SF - Alonzo Gee
PF - Tristan Thompson, C - Andrew Bynum

Bulls: PG - D.J. Augustin, SG - Tony Snell, SF - Mike Dunleavy
PF - Carlos Boozer, C - Joakim Noah

Injuries: (Cavs) - Anthony Bennett, (Illness, Out), Dion Waiters, (Right Wrist Tendinitis, TBD)

(Bulls) - Derrick Rose, (Right Knee, Out), Kirk Hinrich, (Back, Day-to-Day), Luol Deng, (Left Achilles), Out)

*Subject to change

Head-to-Head Matchup

The Cavaliers have taken two of the last three overall meetings after claiming a 97-93 victory in the most recent matchup on Nov. 30 at The Q as Dion Waiters and Andrew Bynum scored 20 points apiece.

All-time, the Wine and Gold are 81-112 against Chicago (50-46 Home, 31-66 Road).

Key to the Game/Key Matchup

Increasing the Tempo

Like most teams in the Central Division, Chicago wants to play a slow-paced, grind-it-out game.

As mentioned, the Wine and Gold have been scoring at an efficient rate as of late and should avoid a slugfest while looking to take advantage of fastbreak opportunities in increasing the tempo of the game.

In order to create fastbreak chances, the Cavs will have to rely on their defense to create turnovers and blocked shots. Last night against Milwaukee, the Cavaliers blocked 12 shots which led to transition baskets at the offensive end.

Key Matchup

Bench Battle

With Chicago dealing with a depleted roster and Cleveland on the heels of a back-to-back, both teams' reserves should play a major role in tonight's contest.

The Cavs have the highest scoring bench in the Eastern Conference at 40.1 points per game (4th-best in the NBA) and has outscored the opponent’s reserves in 19 of 25 contests. Cleveland’s reserves have scored at least 50 points in eight of the last 14 games, averaging 47.3 points to the opponents’ 32.1 points over that stretch (since Nov. 20).

Where to Catch the Action

TV: FOX Sports Ohio, NBATV, Radio: WTAM 1100, NBA League Pass Audio, XM & Sirius 220

For live in-game updates, follow @cavs, @CavsJoeG, @CavsFredMcLeod, @MrCavalier34, @CavsJMike and @chones22 on Twitter.

Be sure to check cavs.com for Joe Gabriele's live in-game blog providing instant analysis and game notes. Plus, get into the discussion as die-hard Cavs fans talk about the game on CavFanatic's GameDay Thread.

Programming Note

Tonight, FOX Sports Ohio is airing the Cavs – Bulls game (8:00 p.m.) and the Blue Jackets – Flyers game (7:00 p.m.). Click here for programming details.

On Deck

After tonight's game, the Cavs head back home to take on the Detroit Pistons at The Q on Monday, December 23rd at 7:00 p.m. ET.