Keys to the Game: Bulls at Cavaliers (02.25.17)
CLEVELAND -- The Chicago Bulls have already played one game without Taj Gibson.
The Cleveland Cavaliers will get their first look at the Bulls without him, and they aren't too upset about Gibson's absence.
"We had problems guarding (Doug) McDermott and Taj the last game," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. "McDermott's movement and his shooting ability and then just Taj with his physical presence of being able to post up and offensive rebounding."
The Cavs host the Bulls at 8:30 p.m. Saturday in ABC's weekly primetime NBA slot.
On Thursday, the Bulls traded forwards Gibson, McDermott, and a 2018 second-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for guards Cameron Payne and Anthony Morrow and center Joffrey Lauvergne.
The trading away of Gibson was emotional, as he had spent all eight of his NBA seasons in Chicago. The Bulls won their first game without him Friday night, beating Phoenix 128-121 in overtime.
"Taj was amazing to me all the years that I've been here," said Bulls All-Star Jimmy Butler, who scored 22 points in Friday's win, according to ESPN. "One thing you could count on Taj, he was coming in bright spirited every day. ... He did all the little things for us and played extremely hard. But I think the person that he was -- that's what we're going to miss."
Dwyane Wade led the Bulls with 23 points Friday. Morrow and Lauvergne dressed but didn't play. Payne was inactive because of the flu.
In Chicago's two wins over the Cavs this season, Gibson was an astounding 19 of 23 (82.6 percent) from the field and averaged 20.5 points. The Bulls beat Cleveland 106-94 at Quicken Loans Arena on Jan. 4, and McDermott added 17 points off the bench.
"Those two guys gave us problems, but Chicago felt that making that move would make them better so, I mean, we don't know what they're thinking, but from their standpoint they wanted to get a point guard in (Cameron) Payne and get another shooter back in (Anthony) Morrow so they know what they're doing," Lue said. "Just have to see how it works."
The Cavs (40-16) have had their problems against the Bulls this season, but things have gone smoothly lately. Cleveland, which is in first place in the East, has won four straight and is an NBA-best 8-1 in February after beating the New York Knicks 119-104 Thursday night.
Cavs guard Kyle Korver will pass Vince Carter (2,011 3-pointers) for sixth place in career 3-pointers with two more 3s, and he will pass Jamal Crawford (2,013 3-pointers) for fifth with three more treys.
Cleveland has won six straight at home and owns the second-best home record in the NBA at 25-5.
If former Mavericks point guard Deron Williams clears waivers by 5 p.m. Saturday he is expected to sign as a free agent with the Cavs.
On Friday, injured All-Star power forward Kevin Love (knee surgery) said he would be ready for Cleveland's coming playoff run.
"I don't know what the (plan is) as far as other guys resting or me resting going forward, but I imagine between J.R. (Smith, who is recovering from thumb surgery) and myself, we'll get out there and get our wind and be ready to go for whenever (the start of the playoffs is) in April," Love said.
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