This week has been topsy-turvy for the Chicago Bulls. First, there was the seemingly never-ending affair against the Knicks, and then there was the furious second-half comeback attempt against the Pelicans. The comical Knicks game ended in a last-second victory (thanks to Zach LaVine being fouled with less than a second to go), while the Pelicans game ended in a nine-point defeat.
Now, the Bulls have a chance to end the week on a positive note as they face off against another one of the lower-tier teams in the Eastern Conference.
It will be a Central Division clash with the opponent for Saturday’s matchup being the Cleveland Cavaliers. This is a completely different team than the one which made the NAB Finals last year, and we all know the one reason why. Losing LeBron James was a fatal blow to this Cavs team in terms of their current core, but it was a move many could see coming.
Luckily for the Cavs, they had the No. 8 pick in the NBA Draft, which they acquired in the Kyrie Irving deal. The Cavs used it to draft Alabama point guard Collin Sexton. Cleveland’s roster is a weird mix of veterans from the previous era and some young guys acquired recently. It’s clear they are one of the worst teams in the NBA and will likely have a top pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. So far this season it has looked like one for the tank, as they have a league-worst 1-10 record and already fired Tyronn Lue. Their only win this season came against the Atlanta Hawks back on Oct. 30.
This game against Chicago starts off a stretch where they play their next three of four games on the road. They go home to Quicken Loans Arena to play the Charlotte Hornets, and then they play two straight road games against the Washington Wizards and Detroit Pistons, respectively.
While Sexton could give the Bulls problems with his speed and ability to attack the hoop, the key for the Bulls in this one will be stopping the duo of Jordan Clarkson and Rodney Hood. Both Clarkson and Hood are second and fourth on this team Cavs team in points per game at 15.2 and 12.3, respectively. On a squad where offensive creation is hard to come by, both of them have taken on bigger offensive roles. With George Hill and Kevin Love both out for extended periods of time, the weight is even bigger on the shoulders of Clarkson and Hood.
There is also some news in terms of the Bulls’ point guard situation: Ryan Arcidiacono will be starting! It was announced this afternoon from Fred Hoiberg himself that the Villanova product will be in the starting five tonight:
Arcidiacono has done OK in the stints he has played in, which has gotten the attention of the coaching staff with Cameron Payne struggling. Arcidiacono has averaged 6.3 points and 4.6 assists while on the court for Chicago.
With Kris Dunn out, the Bulls have had a major problem at point guard in terms of depth and production. It does seem like the right call in terms of what options Hoiberg could choose from.
The Bulls will still be missing the usual guys as Lauri Markkanen, Denzel Valentine, Bobby Portis, and Kris Dunn are still out with their respective injuries.
Cleveland is short-handed and is missing a good chunk of its starters as well. Love is out with a foot injury and Hill will be out for two weeks with a sprained right shoulder. It was also announced yesterday that starter Cedi Osman would be out for this one with back spasms. Sam Dekker is also out with a left ankle injury.
Game Time: 7PM CT