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The Wine & Gold wrap up their longest trip of the season on Saturday night in Chicago – as both the Bulls and Cavaliers play the second half of a back-to-back after having to deal with weather/travel snafus.
The winter storm that hit the Midwest kept both the Cavs and Bulls from traveling on Friday night, with both teams arriving in the Windy City on Saturday morning.
Playing the fifth game of a six-game roadie, the Cavs dropped a weird one on Friday night in Memphis – taking a double-digit lead in the first half, falling behind by 21 points late in the fourth quarter and rallying to get within four in the closing moments. Tristan Thompson got the boot in the third quarter after beefing with Jae Crowder all night. The Cavaliers bench had one of its best collective outings of the season.
The Bulls dropped a similar contest to the Sixers on Friday – taking an early lead before coming apart in the third quarter. Philly’s Furkan Korkmaz drilled six triples as the Bulls dropped their eighth game in the last ten outings. The Cavs have also dropped eight of ten.
This is the second of four meetings between these two Central Division rivals. The Wine & Gold took a 117-111 win back in late October at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Zach LaVine has gotten better in every year of his six-year career after being taken with the 13th overall pick back in 2014.
The former UCLA Bruin leads the Bulls in scoring, steals and is second in assists and recently became the fastest player in team history to reach 100 triples in a season. He’s been Chicago’s most consistent offensive threat all season and he comes into tonight’s contest on a heater – averaging 29.8 points per over his last eight games. Over that stretch, LaVine has posted four 30-point games and a 43-point effort in a recent loss to Indiana – canning eight triples in that contest.
For much of the night, he’ll lock horns with the Wine & Gold’s top offensive threat – Collin Sexton.
The Young Bull has topped the 20-point plateau in three of his last four games, averaging 23.5ppg over that span. Sexton’s also been very good from long-range during that four-game run – hitting at least three triples in three of those games and shooting 48 percent from deep.
In the first meeting between these two teams, Sexton finished with 18 points, going 7-of-12 from the floor to go with two rebounds and a pair of assists.
The Cavaliers bench hasn’t been quite as effective as it was a season ago, but the second unit has had a pretty decent showing on the recent roadie.
In Friday night’s loss to the Grizzlies, the reserves might have had their best collective effort of the season.
Larry Nance Jr., in just his second game back from a sore knee, finished with 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting, adding six boards and a pair of steals. Alfonzo McKinnie posted his first double-double as a Cavalier, adding 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting to go with a team-high 10 boards. And John Henson again provided solid production – pitching in with eight points, five boards and a pair of assists in just under 13 minutes of work.
The Bulls most productive reserve is rookie Coby White, who comes into tonight’s contest averaging 11.4ppg. The former Tarheel – who led Chicago’s second unit with 14 points off bench in Friday’s loss in Philly – has five 20-point games so far this season.
He finished with just eight points in Chicago’s October 30 loss in Cleveland, but perennial Cavs-killer Thaddeus Young picked up the slack, finishing with 14 points on 6-for-14 shooting.