Preview: Cavaliers at Bulls
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[December 21, 2013]
(SportsDirect Inc.) — Chicago and Cleveland are hovering just below the playoff line as the
Bulls prepare to host the Cavaliers on Saturday. With the way the
miserable Eastern Conference is shaking out, both teams could be stuck
all year in limbo between playoff contention and a lottery pick, and
head-to-head matchups like Saturday's will help decide who heads in
which direction. The Cavaliers have reason for optimism, taking six of
their last nine including a 114-111 overtime win over visiting Milwaukee
It will be interesting to see what the Cavaliers can get from
Kyrie Irving on the second night of a back-to-back after he worked
overtime — literally — to score 39 points while fighting a flu bug
that nearly kept him out of the lineup. "I'm tired and I really just
want to lay down right now, but my teammates put the juice in me
tonight," Irving told reporters after the game. "We played with big
heart, big guts. That's what we need every night." The teams have
split the first two meetings this season with the home team winning
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBA TV, FSN Ohio (Cleveland), WGN (Chicago)
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (10-15): Cleveland has come to life at the
offensive end, averaging 111 points over its past five games. Irving
has been a major contributor to that cause with an average of 30.2
over the past five contests, and he has averaged 28.5 since being
shut out for the first time in his career in a loss at Atlanta on
Dec. 6. Forward Tristan Thompson also has played well recently,
averaging 13.2 points and 11.6 rebounds over the past nine games.
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ABOUT THE BULLS (9-16): The Bulls appear to be trending down
since losing star point guard Derrick Rose to another knee
surgery; they have lost four straight and 13 of 16, and they're
coming off a 107-95 defeat at Oklahoma City. The injuries just
keep coming, as leading scorer Luol Deng (Achilles) and guard
Kirk Hinrich (back) both sat against Oklahoma City and Jimmy
Butler left that game with a sprained ankle. "I think our
defense just hasn't been there to help us out," forward Taj
Gibson told reporters. "We are normally a great defensive team.
We've just got to get guys more reps, especially now that we
lost Jimmy with the ankle."
Cleveland SG Dion Waiters (14.9 points) sat out Friday with a
sore right wrist and is day-to-day.
The Bulls are 1-4 when Deng does not play.
The Cavaliers are 2-11 on the road and allow opponents to
average 104.1 points and shoot 47.5 percent away from home.
PREDICTION: Bulls 98, Cavaliers 95
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