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Keys to the Game: Cavaliers vs. Bulls

Keys to the Game presented by: Key Bank


Seeing Red

After dropping two straight, the Wine & Gold have another Central Division showdown on tap for Wednesday night – welcoming Zach LaVine and the Bulls to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

The Cavaliers have faced back-to-back heavyweights to start the week – falling to the hot-shooing Jazz on Sunday and again on Monday night in Milwaukee as the Bucks welcomed Giannis back to the lineup. Cleveland cut into sizeable second-half deficits in both, but couldn’t get over the finish line in either.

Jarrett Allen led Cleveland with 25 points, going 10-for-12 from the floor and 5-for-5 from the stripe, adding nine boards and a pair of blocks while former Bull, Lauri Markkanen followed up with 20 points on 7-for-15 shooting, including 4-of-9 from long-range, adding seven boards in the loss.

Kevin Love chipped in with 15 points in 19 minutes off the bench, going 5-for-11 from beyond the arc to go with four boards and three assists.

The Cavs canned 15 triples and were 19-of-20 from the stripe, but Milwaukee controlled the boards, 53-39, and outran Cleveland on the break, 19-5.

The Bulls come to town having rattled off four straight wins, but will be without their leading scorer, DeMar DeRozan, who recently entered the league’s health and safety protocols.

Of course, the Division-leading Bulls (17-8) did pretty well without DeRozan on Monday night, taking a 12-point win over the Nuggets at the United Center. Zach LaVine led the way with 32 points while Nikola Vucevic and Lonzo Ball each doubled-up with 20 points and 10 rebounds apiece.

Following Wednesday’s matchup, the Wine & Gold get right back on the road – traveling to Minnesota for a Friday night contest before returning home to wrap up the week, hosting the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night in Cleveland.


History

Naturally, these two teams have a long and complex history, with the Wine & Gold trailing in the overall series (93-129) but having won two of the three head-to-head meetings last year, including a 16-point blowout at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in late April.

The Bulls also hold a 20-14 edge over the Cavs in the postseason, although the Cavaliers have taken the last two series – in 2010 and 2015 – with Chicago’s last series win back in 1994.

The single game rebounding mark for the Cavaliers against Chicago belongs to both J.J. Hickson and Kevin Love, who each grabbed 20 boards – Hickson, in a double-digit loss in 2011; Love, in Cavs win in 2019. Cleveland native and John Hay grad Charles Oakley holds that record for Chicago – grabbing 35 boards (16 off the offensive glass alone) in a win over the Cavs in 1988.


Connections

Both Lauri Markkanen and Denzel Valentine spent their first four seasons with the Bulls. Markkanen was an All-Rookie First Teamer after his first season in Chicago in 2018; Valentine was the 14th overall pick of the 2016 Draft after a four-year career at Michigan State.

Markkanen played in 221 games for Chicago, averaging 15.6ppg over that stretch. Valentine played in 232 contests for the Bulls, and his 342 three-pointers with Chicago place him in the franchise’s all-time top 15.

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