Keys To The Game: Bulls at Cavaliers (12.8.21)

Remind Me Later

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Chicago has so far survived a tough stretch that has started without Bulls leading scorer DeMar DeRozan (Health and safety protocols). The Bulls took down the Denver Nuggets 109-97, with Zach LaVine pouring in a game-high 32 points in the win.

LaVine was extremely impressive, taking on a much more active playmaking role with DeRozan out. On top of LaVine's impressive passing (8 assists), Lonzo Ball stepped up his scoring presence sans DeRozan, scoring 20 points (8 more than Ball's season average).

The Bulls will truly need a total team effort to beat a defensively sound Cavs team in Cleveland.

Focus On Box Outs

Matching up with the Cleveland Cavaliers starts and ends with their size advantage, specifically within the starting lineups.

The Cavs start three seven-foot or near seven-foot players in Lauri Markkanen, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen.

Mobley, the third overall pick in the 2021 draft, has formed an intimidating frontcourt tandem with Allen, already a legit shot-blocking and rebounding force who recently inked a five-year, $100 million deal to stay in Cleveland.

Markkanen is someone Bulls fans are very familiar with. Though he still hasn't improved much as an inside scorer or passer, Markkanen has continued to make strides as a rebounder with the Cavs. His 6.1 rebounds per game are aided by the fact that he has been allowed to spend time at small forward.

If the Bulls don't focus on boxing out the Cavs, they could be in for a long night as Cleveland is 8th in the league in rebound rate.

Chicago Bulls boxing out for the rebound

Time For The Zach Attack

With the shorthanded Bulls possibly being even more shorthanded, there is no beating around the bush in terms of what the Bulls need from their star shooting guard. Zach LaVine needs to continue to play like the best version of himself as Chicago weathers the storm sans DeMar DeRozan.

LaVine was magnificent against the Denver Nuggets, racking up 32 points and 8 assists with only 3 turnovers. His leadership without DeRozan on the floor was necessary and will continue to be as Chicago completes this two-game road trip.

Zach LaVine 3-point attempt

Next Man Up Mentality

"Next man up" is the cliche phrase you hear very often in the NBA, but the Bulls truly do need a next man up mentality when you consider how short the bench is at the moment.

Whether it be Alize Johnson, Derrick Jones Jr., Troy Brown Jr., or even the little-used Marko Simonovic, someone will need to play above and beyond their normal level of play for the Bulls to stay afloat over what could be an especially daunting stretch that starts on Wednesday night.

Chicago Bulls and Benny The Bulls
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