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The Wine & Gold look to make it four straight on the road – and two straight over the Bulls in Chicago – when they roll into the Windy City for a Saturday night showdown.
The Cavaliers have won all three of their most recent road games in impressive fashion, including a convincing victory on Wednesday in Charlotte. But it’s been a different story at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, where Cleveland took another one on the chin – falling to the Warriors on Thursday, with Steph Curry heating up late and Golden State getting huge production from its bench.
The Bulls, who’ve dropped out of the East’s Play-In picture and just lost Zach LaVine to health and safety protocols, have dropped their last five – including their second 11-point loss to the Grizzlies this week on Friday night at the United Center. The contest was tied at half, but Memphis jumped on the Bulls right after intermission and pulled away with a 69-point second half.
In losing 11 of their last 14, one of those defeats was a March 24 decision to the Cavs in Chicago, holding the Bulls to 39 points after half and turning in a solid all-around team effort on the eve of the Trade Deadline. Cleveland and Chicago have split their previous six decisions.
The Bulls made one of the biggest moves at said Trade Deadline – acquiring center Nikola Vucevic – and while the two-time All-Star has been outstanding production-wise, the move hasn’t paid off in wins for Chicago, which has gone 3-9 since.
Since the deal – in which the Bulls sent Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter and a pair of first rounders in exchange for Vucevic and Al-Farouq Aminu – the 10th-year man from USC has averaged 22.6 points and 10.2 boards, shooting 50 percent from the floor and 45 percent from deep.
Over that 12-game stretch, Vucevic has posted seven double-doubles, including a 24-point, 14-rebound, six-assist effort in last night’s loss to the Grizzlies.
The Cavaliers finally have a healthy frontline that’ll be ready for the Bulls’ new addition.
In just his second game back after a concussion sidelined him in late March, Jarrett Allen looked like his old self – finishing with 17 points and a game-high 14 boards, going 6-of-7 from the floor and 5-of-6 from the line, adding a pair of steals in the loss.
Allen was also very good in the last meeting against Chicago – notching 19 points and nine boards, going 9-for-12 from the floor, adding a team-high three blocks and a pair of steals.
With Zach LaVine out of the lineup for the Bulls, they’ve had to find production from elsewhere in the rotation, and on Friday night, second-year man Coby White stepped up for Chicago.
The speedy sophomore from North Carolina has been up and down this season, shooting 41 percent from the floor and 34 percent from long-range, but has a pair of 30-point outings and has gone for 20-plus 10 times – including a 27-point outing against Memphis, going 4-of-8 from deep and 7-of-7 from the stripe, leading Chicago with seven assists.
In his lone start against the Cavs – last year’s ‘season finale’ in Chicago – White finished with 20 points on 7-of-17 shooting in the win.
Darius Garland went two picks before White in the 2019 Draft, and he’ll see plenty of him on Saturday night.
Garland comes into tonight’s contest averaging an even 17.0ppg as a sophomore. Since the All-Star Break, he’s averaged 18.4ppg, with five 20-point outings and a career-best 37-point outburst in the mix.
One of those 20-point nights came on Friday, when he went for exactly 20 – going 7-for-20 from the floor with a team-high seven assists. Another was a 22-point showing in the March 24 win over the Bulls, going 4-for-6 from beyond the arc with a game-high nine assists.