GameDay Preview: Cavs at Bulls

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Jeremy Pargo, Tristan Thompson, Carlos Boozer
David Liam Kyle/Einstein/NBAE/GettyImages

Game Summary

The Cleveland Cavaliers (8-27) will face the Chicago Bulls (18-13) tonight at the United Center for the third of four regular season matchups. Tipoff is at 8:00 p.m. ET.

The Wine and Gold are 3-1 in their last four road games and are holding opponents to 93.3 points on .442 shooting from the field, including .286 shooting from beyond the arc, over that stretch. Furthermore, the Cavs have outscored their last four road foes, 96.8-93.3.

With former MVP, Derrick Rose, still sidelined with a knee injury, Chicago is led by their frontcourt trio of Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah. Deng leads the team in scoring at 17.4 points per game while Boozer and Noah are second and third respectively at 14.9 and 12.8 points a contest. Noah also leads Chicago in rebounding, grabbing 10.4 boards per game.

Probable Starters/Injury Report* presented by Cleveland Clinic

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

Bulls: PG - Kirk Hinrich, SG - Richard Hamilton, SF - Luol Deng
PF - Carlos Boozer, C - Joakim Noah

Injuries: (Cavs) - Anderson Varejao (Right Knee Contusion, Out), Daniel Gibson (Concussion, Out), Luke Walton (Personal Matter, Out)
(Bulls) - Kirk Hinrich (Left Knee, Day-to-Day), Derrick Rose (Left Knee, Out)

*Subject to change

Head-to-Head Matchup

The Cavaliers trail the all-time series against the Bulls, 110-79, posting a 49-46 mark in games played at home with the Bulls tallying a 64-30 record in games played in their home arena.

The last time these Central Division rivals faced each other on Dec. 5, six Cavaliers scored in double figures and Anderson Varejao notched his 10 straight double-double with 11 points, 15 rebounds (five offensive), three assists and a game-high three steals in 36 minutes. Tyler Zeller had a solid game off the bench, finishing with 10 points, seven rebounds and one steal in 25 minutes

Key to the Game/Key Matchup

Key to the Game

Control the Tempo
In 2009-10, the season before Tom Thibodeau’s arrival in Chicago, the Bulls ranked 13th in the NBA in scoring defense (99.1 ppg). Since Thibodeau’s arrival in 2011, Chicago has ranked second (91.3 ppg) in 2010-11 and first (a franchise-record 88.1 ppg) in 2011-12.

This season, Chicago is allowing the third-lowest points per game at 91.5, but are scoring at the fourth-lowest rate at 92.5 points.

Needless to say, the Bulls like to slow the game down at both ends of the floor. The Cavaliers will have to look to push the tempo of the game and get out on the fastbreak at every opportunity.

Key Matchup

Cavs frontcourt vs. Bulls frontcourt
No doubt the Bulls have one of the best frontcourts in the NBA with the previously mentioned trio of Deng, Boozer and Noah, so the Cavaliers' frontcourt of Alonzo Gee, Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller will have to continue their solid play of late.

Starting with Gee, the three-year pro has played and started in all 35 games for the Cavaliers this season and has been the go-to defensive stopper. On the season, Gee is averaging a career-high 11.7 points to go along with 4.3 rebounds.

On Saturday, Thompson posted his 12th double-double of the season with 14 points and a career-high 16 rebounds (eight offensive), to go along with one steal and one block in 37 minutes. He has now recorded seven double-doubles in his last nine contests and is averaging 13.2 points on .500 shooting, 12.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 36.4 minutes per game over that stretch.

Zeller continues to put up good numbers after tallying 12 points, five rebounds, a career-high five assists and a career-high three steals in 37 minutes in the Cavs last outing. Zeller, who ranks 4th among rookie qualifiers in rebounds (5.4) and 7th in points (8.2), is averaging 11.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 34.2 minutes in nine games as a starter this season.

Where to Catch the Action

TV: FSOhio HD, NBA League Pass
Radio: WTAM 1100, XM 220, Sirius 134, NBA League Pass Audio