The game is not being played here but I took this picture so here it is.
Chicago Bulls (1-0) @ Cleveland Cavaliers (1-0)
I will be making a concerted effort to try and talk about Chicago sports in the coming months since I now have the ability to hop on a train and watch some live sports. Due to a combination of a lack of time and the fact that there is really no point in me writing previews in the Michigan blogosphere, I'm going to direct my attention toward the Bulls, maybe the Bears, and maybe the Blackhawks (except the NHL is dead so probably not that).
Anyway, that's your warning (in case the above picture wasn't enough). Today's preview will be a lightning round version, however these posts will generally be much shorter than your average Michigan football preview, there being 82 games and whatnot.
The Cleveland Cavaliers enter this tilt against the Bulls at 1-0 after a 10-point victory against what is still a very bad Wizards team. Nothing much has changed, as Kyrie Irving still makes this team go when it does in fact go (that sounds familiar); he paced the Cavs with a 29-point, 6-rebound effort on Tuesday. Tristan Thompson and the rookie out of Syracuse Dion Waiters both scored in the double digits as well (12 and 17, respectively).
Otherwise, the rest of Cleveland's starting lineup is filled by all-around gritster and annoying guy Anderson Varejao and SF Alonzo Gee. Varejao does what he does...he's basically a poor man's Noah. Gee is just a guy.
Points of Concern
There's really only one: don't let Kyrie Irving beat you by himself. The Bulls are not the Wizards, defensively or otherwise, so I can't imagine that Irving will replicate Tuesday's performance. For all the talk about Hinrich's tough, GRITTY defense, I don't really feel that great about him staying in front of Irving.
Cleveland grabbed 18 offensive boards on Tuesday; however, 12 of them came from Varejao. Even post-Asik, the Bulls still have a pretty dominant front court and overall rebounding presence.
Other than the obvious admonishment that is "stop Irving," Tristan Thompson is an interesting player to watch out for. I had the chance to watch the Cavs take on the Knicks at Madison Square Garden in February and Thompson, then a rookie, was very much your standard 1-and-done guy: athletic, lanky and very raw. Thompson put up 11 points on 5-9 shooting and 8 rebounds, a solid night against a Knicks team featuring a defensive stalwart like Tyson Chandler.
What Needs To Happen
- Clean up the perimeter defense. The Bulls gave up far too many points on uncontested drives from outside against Sacramento. Against Irving, the Bulls really can't afford to do that or he will drop 30+. However, other than Irving, I'm not sure who on the Cavs roster is really going to break you down. Waiters? I guess, but then again it's not like the Bulls are overflowing with break-you-down-ability right now sans Rose. Daniel Gibson, the other Longhorn on the roster (the first being Thompson) looks to be coming off the bench; he is a known entity at this point in his career. He'll spot up and hit some threes if you leave him open, just like every somewhat decent player in the NBA will do.
- Oh bench where art thou? So the bench didn't really get much run on Wednesday, and it would be nice to see that change a bit tonight. Against teams like Sacramento and Cleveland, you would think that the Bulls could afford not to run Deng et al into the ground so early in the season. Contributions from Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson are always appreciated. This is a good opportunity for Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler to work on their offensive game against another bad team. Perhaps Gibson has a double-double in store to celebrate his recent extension.
- GIMME DAT. Boozer makes shots. Shots make Boozer. Whatever it is, let's keep doing that please. The loudest Bull was 8-13 on Wednesday en route to an 18-point night. Yeah yeah, his game relies almost entirely on the jumper, but he did have a nice "and 1" play late in Wednesday's game.
Useless Prediction Time
- Both Deng and Noah play 40+ minutes again.
- Gibson scores 10 but just misses the double-double, reeling in eight boards.
- Irving has another Denardian performance, points-wise, but once again is somewhat lacking in the assist department.
- Bulls 85, Cavaliers 80.