GAME NIGHT FROM THE UNITED CENTER:
Cleveland (39-29, 17-18 on the road) at Bulls (24-44,15-19 at home) - 7PM tipoff.
TV: NBC Sports Chicago: Neil Funk and Stacey King: 7PM CT.
RADIO 670 The Score: Chuck Swirsky, Bill Wennington, Steve Kashul. 6:45 CT pre.
LEADING SCORERS: Bulls: LaVine - 16 ppg. Cavs: James - 27ppg.
LEADING REBOUNDERS: Bulls: Markkanen - 7. Cavs: James - 8
LEADING ASSISTS: Bulls: Dunn - 6. Cavs: James - 9
SEASON SERIES: Cavaliers 3-0. James (3 games) Avg. 30 points, 5 rebounds and 9 assists against the Bulls. Markkanen: Avg. 19 points 5 rebounds.
LAST MEETING: December 22, 2017 At Cleveland. Cavaliers 115-112.
CCI 24 SECONDS COMMENTARY: Both teams are banged up. Missing tonight for the Bulls: Lauri Markkanen. We will learn more about possible other absentees tonight from Fred Hoiberg when he meets the media at 5:15PM. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Cavs will be without Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, Kyle Korver, Larry Nance Jr., Cedi Osman, and Rodney Hood.
For Bulls fans, they're counting on seeing LeBron James, who could be appearing in a Cavs uniform for the final time in Chicago. So much speculation on his future; but the future can wait. He and his Cavaliers have bigger issues than the 2018 free agent market. It begins and ends with health, chemistry and a commitment to defense. Kevin Love is expected to return to game action next week. He's missed 20 straight games with a broken hand. Tristan Thompson remains out with an ankle injury. Larry Nance Jr. missed the Portland game with a hamstring issue and Cedi Osman, who was really coming on, is sidelined with a groin injury. Rodney Hood has a cranky back. On top of that, an infusion of new talent featuring Hood, Jordan Clarkson, George Hill, and Nance are attempting to mesh not only with themselves, but with James.
The Bulls bench delivered big time at Memphis as Fred Hoiberg continues to mix and match combinations. Bobby Portis has established himself as a fixture on the second unit averaging 19 points and 8 rebounds in the past three games. Denzel Valentine is in search of consistency, but as of now, he's in a nice groove coming off a 15-5-4 game. Cam Payne is playing with a ton of confidence and while he still enjoys casting up three point shots, Payne has been solid protecting the ball allowing only three turnovers in the past 100 minutes.
NBA NEWS AND NOTES:
Toronto 122 Dallas 115 (OT) - The Raps tied a franchise record winning their 11th straight game. Rockford's very own Fred Van Vleet has become a star off the bench for the Raps as nailed a huge three in the extra period.
Boston 92 Orlando 83 - The Celtics won the game despite shooting 37% from the field. Orlando has lost 6 of 7. Marcus Smart underwent thumb surgery and is out 6-8 weeks. Major, major blow to Boston.
Philly 120 Nets 116 - Brooklyn has lost 19 of 22. Joel Embiid celebrated his 24th birthday by grabbing a career high 19 rebounds.
OKC 121 LAC 113 - Great effort by the Clippers in the second game of a back to back. Westbrook with his 22nd triple-double.
Miami 92 Lakers 91 - The Heat snap a nine game road losing streak. Dragic with 30. The eighth seeded Heat hold a six game lead on Detroit for the final playoff spot.
Quinn Cook, a two way player (G League/NBA contract) scored 25 for the injury depleted Warriors but Sacramento prevails 98-93.
Kevin Durant will miss at least two weeks with a rib injury. Golden State played without Durant, Curry and Thompson.
Wishing Loyola all the best as they take on Tennessee and congratulations to UMBC.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Always a pleasure!