LAST TIME OUT
The Cleveland Cavaliers won an OT thriller against the Philadelphia 76ers in the second game of an away-home series, 127-125. Now, sitting at 3-4 and still searching for some sort of identity for their starting roster, Cleveland will be going up against Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls for the first time this season. It will be the first matchup between point guards Derrick Rose and Kyrie Irving ever, so strap your seatbelts.
THIS TIME UP
About the Opponent: Chicago Bulls
Tipoff: Nov. 11, 8 p.m. at United Center. Cavaliers at Bulls tickets can be found here.
Where you can watch: Fox Sports Ohio/NBA League Pass
Where you can listen: WTAM 1100
Previous Matchup: 101-98 win at United Center – Feb. 26
Opponent’s Blog: Pippen Ain’t Easy
First Act: Kyrie vs. D-Rose
It’s finally going to happen. After a handful of matchups between the Bulls and the Cavaliers that took place since Kyrie was drafted two seasons ago didn’t feature both of the team’s star starting point guards, it’s going down on Monday night. And, coming off of a win Saturday night combined with the struggles that Rose has had shooting to start the season, it looks like Irving might have an advantage in the first matchup. Rose is only shooting 32 percent from the field so far this season, and that’s not because of the comeback from injury. Something that I find interesting about Rose is that he is averaging 15 shot attempts per game in 31 minutes. His career averages are 36.7 minutes and 17.4 shot attempts, so you can tell that the role players that surrounded him two seasons ago being absent this season is affecting his game, causing him to shoot more and pass less. Opponents are shooting an effective field goal percentage of 50.9 against the Bulls point guard as well, so this looks like a good matchup for Kyrie.
Taking a Look at Luol Deng
If you’ve read my writing before, you know that I’m a proponent for the Cavaliers making an advance for Deng in the postseason. Although he has looked horrendous from beyond the arc this season, he is, however, converting on 53.6 percent of his two-point attempts. He’s averaging a solid 15.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists, something that the Cavaliers are nowhere close to seeing from any of their starting three candidates. I have a feeling that the Bulls and Deng will break up next season, and coming off of a 19/11/9 game in the Bulls victory over Utah, Cleveland will get its first taste of 28-year-old small forward in 2013-14.
Defense Still Reigns Supreme in the Windy City
With Joakim Noah still at the heart of this roster, you know that this is going to be a top-5 defense once again. Right now, the Bulls rank fifth in the NBA in rebounding (45.6 RPG) and third in the league in points allowed (93.0 PPG). With the Cavaliers ranking 11th and 13th in those categories respectively, it looks like Cleveland will have to once again toughen up their defense, much like they did in the first few games of the season. If the Cavs can somehow match D for D, then I think the Wine & Gold will leave Chicago with a W. I’m also excited to see a healthy Anderson Varejao go up against Noah with his evolving perimeter game.
Prediction: The Cavs win this one because Kyrie will go off against Rose and Tristan Thompson will take a stand tall against the big boys of Chicago.