GameDay Preview: Cavs at Bulls

Shaun Livingston
Jonathan Daniel/NBAE/GettyImages

Game Summary

Before heading home for the next five games, the Cleveland Cavaliers (18-38) will wrap up their three-game road trip tonight against Central Division rival Chicago Bulls (32-24) at the United Center. Tipoff is at 8:00 p.m. ET.

The Cavs are 7-2 in their last nine games against Eastern Conference opponents.

Over the last nine contests, Cleveland has outscored their opponents 108.2 to 102.6, while dishing out an average of 24.6 assists to only 11.3 turnovers per game. Cleveland is averaging 107.3 points in February, which is the highest in the Eastern Conference and 4th in the NBA.

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 16.5 points per game while Boozer and Noah are second and fourth respectively at 15.2 and 11.7 points a contest. Noah also leads Chicago in rebounding, grabbing 11.3 boards per game.

Probable Starters/Injury Report* presented by Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland ClinicCavaliers: PG - Shaun Livingston, SG - Dion Waiters, SF - Alonzo Gee
PF - Tristan Thompson, C - Tyler Zeller

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

Injuries: (Cavs) - Kyrie Irving (Sore Right Knee/Hyperextended, Out), Omri Casspi, (Appendectomy, Out), Daniel Gibson, (Personal Matter, TBD), Anderson Varejao, (Vastus Medialis Split/Surgery, Out)
(Bulls) - Kirk Hinrich (Right Elbow, Day-to-Day), Derrick Rose (Left Knee, Out), Taj Gibson (Sprained Left Knee, Day-to-Day)

*Subject to change

Head-to-Head Matchup

The Cavaliers trail the all-time series against the Bulls, 79-111, posting a 49-46 mark in games played at home with the Bulls tallying a 65-30 record in games played in their home arena.

Tonight's matchup will be the fourth and final matchup between the two Central Division rivals. The last time the two teams squared off on Jan. 7 in Chicago, Dion Waiters scored a team-high 18 points and grabbed six rebounds for the Cavs, who forced the Bulls to turn over the ball 20 times.

Key to the Game/Key Matchups

Key to the Game

Controlling the Tempo

This season, Chicago is allowing the third-lowest points per game at 91.3, but are scoring at the third-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 56 games for the Cavaliers this season and has been the go-to defensive stopper. On the season, Gee is averaging a career-high 10.5 points to go along with 3.9 rebounds.

On Sunday, Thompson notched his 19th double-double of the season at Miami after tallying 11 points and a game-high 12 rebounds in 30 minutes. Since Dec. 19, Thompson is tied for 5th in the Eastern Conference with 14 double-doubles in 30 games, averaging 13.7 points on .505 shooting, 10.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 33.3 minutes per game over that stretch.

Zeller continues to put up good numbers averaging 12.3 points on .636 (21-33) shooting and 5.0 rebounds in 24.0 minutes over his last four games. On the season, he currently ranks 3rd among all NBA rookies in rebounds per game (6.0).

Where to Catch the Action

TV: FSOhio HD, NBA TV, NBA League Pass
Radio: WTAM 1100, XM 220, Sirius 136, NBA League Pass Audio

Programming Notes:

Cavaliers Live Pregame Show begins at 7:30 p.m. | Tipoff at 8:00 p.m.

• Cleveland, Toledo, Youngstown/Erie, and Wheeling/Steubenville areas:
- Main FOX Sports Ohio cable channel
- Direct TV: FSOhio
- Dish: FSOhio
- AT&T: FSOhio

• Columbus, Lima, Cincinnati, and Dayton, areas:
- The game is being made available to providers to air on the alternate FOX Sports Ohio cable channels. Alternate channel information can be found here:
- Direct TV: FSOhio
- Dish: FSOhio
- AT&T: FSOhio