Cavaliers vs. Bulls Preview: Chicago Has Edge Over Shorthanded Cleveland

Joe Dellera breaks down Saturday's NBA game between the Cavaliers and Bulls, including betting odds and a prediction.

Cavaliers vs. Bulls Odds

Cavaliers Odds +5
Bulls Odds -5
Over/Under 222.5
Time 8 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Cavaliers look to rebound after Friday night’s loss to the Miami Heat while the Bulls attempt to stave off their divisional rival in the Eastern Conference standings.

Let’s break down this showdown with playoff implications.

Cavaliers Miss LeVert, Allen

The Cavaliers are attempting to weather the storm of injuries that has decimated their roster. Currently, they are without both Caris LeVert (foot) and Jarrett Allen (finger) who are key pieces to their rotation.

While losing LeVert hurts the Cavaliers’ offense, the loss of Allen is extremely significant on both sides of the ball. In the 10 games the Cavaliers have played without Allen this season, they are just 3-7. They’ve struggled offensively and been much less effective rebounding the basketball.

The Cavaliers have struggled offensively this entire season. They have just the 24th-ranked Adjusted Offensive Rating in the league. And while their defense is one of the best in the league, it’s tough to continue winning when you seemingly need a strong defensive performance every night.

One issue for Cleveland has been that it is excellent in transition but spends the majority of its possessions in the halfcourt instead. If the Cavaliers and Darius Garland can control the pace of this game, then the Cavs would have a better opportunity to attack Chicago’s 25th-ranked Transition defense, per Cleaning the Glass.

Bulls Need to Contain Mobley

The Bulls have listed a few players on today’s injury report. Nikola Vucevic (hamstring) is probable, Alex Caruso (wrist) is questionable, Ayo Dosunmu (adductor) is probable and Zach LaVine (knee) is questionable. The potential return of Caruso is significant. He’s had the best point differential on the team this season (+10.4) and would dramatically improve his team’s performance and depth.

The Bulls have been an offensive force this season and are owners of the sixth-best Adjusted Offensive Rating (113.5). They’ve been lethal from mid-range, in particular, but with two elite shot creators in LaVine and DeMar DeRozan coupled with an offensive-oriented big man in Vucevic, it’s easy to see how this team has the fifth-best eFG% in the league (54.9%), per Cleaning the Glass.

One concern for Chicago is obviously its defense. It’s ranked just 23rd in the league, but with Caruso potentially returning, this team should see a boost. The most important part of this matchup will be containing Evan Mobley. While the Bulls allow the highest frequency of shots at the rim, they’ve been seventh-best in the league at defending those looks.

If they’re about to win the battle on the interior against the rookie big man, then Chicago should maintain an advantage.

Cavaliers-Bulls Pick

The Bulls have a much more potent offense, which should compensate for their general lack of defense. On the flip side, the Cavaliers’ offense is depleted and may not be able to take advantage of Chicago’s below-average defense.

Although these two teams are close in the standings and even in the advanced metrics, they are not on equal footing right now. Chicago should have its best players available, while the Cavaliers are down an All-Star in Allen.

Given the health and rest advantage, I’ll lay the points with Chicago and back the Bulls to take care of business as a home favorite.

Pick: Bulls -5