Chicago Bulls (2-2) vs
Cleveland Cavaliers (3-2)
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
Thursday, November 5, 2009
8:00 PM EST
You have to be proud of the game the Cavaliers played against the Wizards on Tuesday. Admit it, when the Cavs found themselves down 18 points in the first half, none of you really believed they would fight their way back. But that’s exactly what happened. In the end, the Cavaliers walked away with a fairly easy win over the team that loves to hate us so much. People are so quick to criticize Mike Brown when things aren’t going well, but credit belongs to the coach for recognizing the massive size mismatch the Cavs had inside and sticking to it. Credit goes to realizing Boobie Gibson had the hot hand in the 2nd half and he gave him the proper minutes to have a strong affect on the game. Granted, these things should be obvious, but hey, baby steps. So it is that the Cavaliers welcome division rivals Chicago into the Q where the Cavs will try to extend their 3 game win streak. The Bulls come in limping a bit in terms of confidence and performance, and being shorthanded won’t help them much at all either.
Projected Starting Lineups
-G Derrick Rose (11.8 ppg, 4.8 apg, 0.5 spg, 12.03 PER)
-G John Salmons (10.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.8 apg, 3.57 PER)
-F Luol Deng (17.8 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 0.8 apg, 20.42 PER)
-F Taj Gibson (5.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 0.5 bpg, 12.39 PER)
-C Joakim Noah (10.0 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 2.5 bpg, 21.55 PER)
Key Reserves: Kirk Hinrich, Brad Miller, Jannero Pargo, James Johnson
Injuries: Aaron Gray (out), Jerome James (out), Tyrus Thomas (questionable)
-G Mo Williams (17.4 ppg, 4.0 apg, 0.8 spg, 15.92 PER)
-G Anthony Parker (9.2 ppg, 2.2 apg, .474 3P%, 7.34 PER)
-F LeBron James (25.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 8.2 apg, 28.67 PER)
-F Anderson Varejao (8.0 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 0.8 bpg, 14.75 PER)
-C Shaquille O’Neal (11.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 17.90 PER)
Key Reserves: Daniel Gibson, Delonte West, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Jamario Moon
Injuries: Leon Powe (out)
Team Efficiency Stats
-Off (88.0 ppg, 45.3 rpg, .409 FG%, 17.5 apg, 14.0 TOpg, Eff-94.8, Rank-27)
-Def (94.8 ppg, 42.5 rpg, .467 FG%, Eff-101.0, Rank-10)
-Off (95.2 ppg, 39.6 rpg, .442 FG%, 21.4 apg, 13.4 TOpg, Eff-103.0, Rank-14)
-Def (90.4 ppg, 42.8 rpg, .427 FG%, Eff-98.0, Rank-7)
- Fri, Dec 4 at Cleveland
- Fri, Mar 19 at Chicago
- Thu, Apr 8 at Chicago
Tyrus Thomas is expected to miss this game with the flu, which means the Cavaliers should once again have a significant advantage inside, particularly when you factor in the absence of Aaron Gray. Rookie Taj Gibson is getting his first start tonight, and it will be fascinating to see how his talent matches up with the sly wiliness and veteran experience of Anderson Varejao. At center, Joakim Noah certainly has the quickness and athleticism to hassle Shaq, but Shaq also has the size and strength to roll through him much like he was able to do against Andray Blatche and Javale McGee in the Wizards game. Brad Miller is an excellent bench player for the Bulls, but in general I foresee them having some troubles with the Cavaliers’ frontcourt size and strength. However, if Mike Brown plays Shaq and Z together at the same time in this game, that advantage will instantly be negated as the combination of Gibson and Noah are athletic enough to run circles around the Cavs’ “Twin Towers”.
Typically, the Cavaliers do struggle against PGs like Derrick Rose, and this is why the NBA is becoming such a PGs’ league, as it seems like every team now has a quick, slashing PG who can punish poor perimeter defending. Hopefully Delonte West will be ok to play major minutes tonight as he has the ability to make Rose uncomfortable for much of the night.
The Bulls come in to this game shooting a putrid 40.9% from the field, which isn’t all that surprising when you have your 2 outside shooters (Salmons and Rose) both severely struggling with their shot. Remember the Cavaliers’ first couple games, when nobody was knocking down shots for the Cavaliers from the perimeter, and their interior wasn’t playing well enough to carry the team? Well, that’s where the Bulls’ offense is at right now. Just as the Cavs at least had LeBron, the Bulls at least have Luol Deng who is quietly having another really nice start to his season. If Salmons and/or Rose can find their shot, along with Hinrich coming off the bench, it makes things easier for Deng. And when the Cavs defense has to focus so much on Deng, it can open up easy opportunities for Miller, Gibson, and Noah inside.
For the Cavalier offense, they will likely once again look to find some success from the perimeter, as they can get some open looks if Shaq is able to continue his development in this offense. It would be great to see Anthony Parker start to look like himself again. I’m not sure what it is about the Cavaliers’ SGs in the LeBron era, but to this day the only ones to play good basketball from that position have been Flip Murray and Delonte West. For whatever reason, Parker just does not look comfortable in this offense at all, and he’s really struggling with his shot and is starting to press the issue a bit. Hopefully all he needs to is to hit a couple early to regain his confidence, and even though the Bulls’ defense has been good this season, I expect that Parker may have some good looks as the 5th option in this offense.
Of course, no mismatch in this game is greater than LeBron James. Luol Deng is a good individual defender, and at times in the past he has had moments where he has bothered LeBron, but beyond Deng, the Bulls are going to have some matchup issues with LeBron. Tyrus Thomas would normally be an excellent help defender on LeBron, but if he misses the game due to his illness, I’m not exactly sure who is going to defend LeBron. The Bulls can’t afford to wear out their best offensive player in Deng by making him guard LeBron all night, and though Salmons has decent enough size to defend a lot of SFs in the NBA in the past, he lacks the strength to defend LeBron one-on-one. This could be a major problem for the Bulls.
Overall, the Cavaliers have been steadily improving on offense. The FG% is starting to rise, the A/TOV ratio is getting close to where it needs to be, and they’re creeping toward the magical 100 ppg mark. Last year the Cavaliers were 38-2 when they scored 100 or more points in the regular season. Not that this is surprising, but when you’re a great defensive team, if you can get your team average around 100 ppg, you’re going to put together a pretty stellar record. That’s the Cavaliers’ M.O. for success this year. The one area the Cavaliers are not improving on, though, is rebounding. Losing Big Z’s offensive rebounding presence has caused the Cavaliers’ overall rebounding numbers to plummet this season. The Cavs are getting killed on the boards. It’s something worth keeping an eye on, as it is pretty tough to win an NBA Championship when you can’t rebound. In the last 10 years since the strike shortened season, not one NBA Champion has averaged less than 40 rebounds per game. The Cavaliers are currently at 39.6 rebounds per game. We’ll see if the Cavaliers can take advantage of the absences of Gray and Thomas in this game and come out controlling the glass for once.
From The Outside Looking In
Next Game For The Cavaliers
Friday, November 6, 2009
8:00 PM EST
Cleveland Cavaliers at New York Knicks