If having center Anderson Varejao and shooting guard Daniel Gibson sidelined due to injuries wasn’t bad enough for the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team now has two more problems on hand: Jon Leuer will be taking Luke Walton’s spot on the roster due to personal matters and small forward Omri Casspi has allegedly requested for a trade according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. This also goes along with Sunday’s news involving the Cavs waiving power forward Samardo Samuels. The Wine and Gold will try to put these issues aside, as they take on the Chicago Bulls at United Center, with tipoff set for 8 p.m. The game will air on Fox Sports Ohio and will be broadcasted over the radio on WTAM (1100 AM) and WFUN (970 AM). Here are some statistics to get you ready for the game:
Cavaliers (8-27, 5-15 away)
Offensive Efficiency – 98.1 (28th)
Pace – 94.7 (12th)
Turnover Ratio – 13.9 (11th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage – 46.2 (27th)
Defensive Efficiency – 106.0 (27th)
Average Points – 94.5 (23rd)
Average Rebounds – 42.1 (15th)
Average Assists – 19.4 (30th)
Average Points Allowed – 99.8 (24th)
Bulls (18-13, 9-8 home)
Offensive Efficiency – 99.6 (23rd)
Pace – 92.6 (27th)
Turnover Ratio – 14.1 (19th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage – 46.5 (24th)
Defensive Efficiency – 98.4 (4th)
Average Points – 92.5 (27th)
Average Rebounds – 43.2 (10th)
Average Assists – 22.6 (8th)
Average Points Allowed – 91.5 (3rd)
Over the past two games, center Tyler Zeller has faired well against the big men of the Charlotte Bobcats and Houston Rockets from a defensive standpoint. After being outworked by DeMarcus Cousins last Wednesday, Zeller has stood his ground for the most part. Monday night may be a different story, as the nasty Joakim Noah will be sure to get his fair share of touches against the rookie first-round pick. The Chicago center is currently averaging 12.8 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks, some of the highest marks of his six-season career.
The Bulls thrive on playing gritty defense down low, only allowing 37.7 points in the paint per game, which is good for fourth in the NBA. That’s not to say that Chicago slacks on their perimeter defense. This team is one of the most fundamentally sound defensive groups in the NBA, as they only allow opponents to score on average 16.4 points from three-point shots. This will be a problem for Cleveland, as they rely on outside shooting to fuel their offense. The Wine and Gold currently rank 10th in the Association in respect to average points from three pointers (23.1 points per game). Since being implemented in the starting lineup, C.J. Miles has averaged 5.0 points off of three pointers in the first quarter, so a hot start from beyond the arc will be key early on.
The Cavaliers can’t rely on their three-point shooting, however, to deliver them their first victory against the Bulls since March 19, 2010. We all know the problems that Cleveland has had at the rim when putting up shots, as they rank dead last in the NBA with a 57.0 percent clip. They put up the eighth-most shots from that location (26.4 attempts per game), but can’t seem to convert. Although I have been very pleased with Tristan Thompson’s play as of late, he needs to learn how to put a spring in his game instead of giving defense’s time to match up against him. This isn’t only a problem with Thompson, but it’s the most noticeable in his style of play. Hesitation comes with youth, I understand that, but the learning curve needs to be going in a positive direction.
Once again we won’t be getting the long-awaited Central Division matchup between point guards Derrick Rose and Kyrie Irving. Buzz around the former MVP and All-Star indicates that Rose is likely to return in late February or right after the All-Star break in early March. Cleveland only has one more matchup against the Bulls this season (February 26), so we may need to wait until the 2013-14 season for this rivalry to start. Irving is currently averaging 23.4 points, 5.6 assists and 4.0 rebounds, while shooting 46.0 percent from the field and 40.2 percent from three.