CHICAGO BULLS (17-18)
at CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (26-7)
Tip-off: Wednesday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: N/A, Total: N/A
The Cavaliers will be going for their fourth straight win when they host the Bulls on Wednesday.
Chicago had lost eight of its past 11 games before facing Charlotte on Monday, but the Bulls were able to pull out a 118-111 victory as 1.5-point home underdogs in that one. Chicago shot over 45.0% from the floor for the first time since Dec. 25 in that game, and the team must find a way to get somewhere near that mark against Cleveland. The Cavaliers are rolling at the moment, as they have now won three straight and 13 of their past 15. They did, however, lose to this Bulls team 111-105 as 1.5-point road favorites on Dec. 2. Cleveland turned the ball over 18 times in that game, and the team will need to take better care of the ball on Wednesday. Fortunately for the Cavaliers, they are 5-2 SU (2-5 ATS) when hosting the Bulls over the past three seasons. They also happen to be a remarkable 18-2 SU overall when playing at Quicken Loans Arena on the season. A trend that bodes well for Cleveland is the fact that favorites of 10 points or more are 24-5 ATS over the past five seasons when revenging a same season loss versus an opponent that just won a game at home. SG Dwyane Wade (Knee) is listed as questionable for Chicago, but itís hard to imagine him missing an opportunity to play against LeBron. PG Kyrie Irving (Hamstring), meanwhile, is questionable for Cleveland, but the team should have PF Kevin Love (Food Poisoning) for this one.
If the Bulls are going to find a way to win in Cleveland then the team is going to need a big performance from SF Jimmy Butler (25.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 4.4 APG, 1.7 SPG). Butler was unstoppable against the Hornets on Monday, pouring in 52 points on 15-for-24 shooting from the field and 21-for-22 shooting from the line. Charlotte had no answer for him in isolation, and Butler also chipped in 12 boards, six assists, three steals and a block in that one. While itís impossible to ask for another performance like that on Wednesday, the Bulls are going to need him to be spectacular in order to pull off this upset. That also goes for Butlerís play on the defensive end, as he could see a lot of time guarding LeBron James in this one. What would help Chicago a lot would be if SG Dwyane Wade (18.8 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.4 SPG) could suit up for this game. Wade had 24 points in the win over the Cavs in December, and the Bulls are really short on scoring options without him. One guy that could be an x-factor on Wednesday is PG Michael Carter-Williams (5.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG). Carter-Williams is the teamís new starter at the point guard spot, and he had 10 points, nine rebounds and three assists in 31 minutes of action on Monday. His length could come in handy defensively against Cleveland.
The Cavaliers are hot at the moment and SF LeBron James (25.6 PPG, 8.6 APG, 7.8 RPG, 1.4 SPG) is looking like an MVP yet again this season. Over the past four games, James is averaging 28.0 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 7.5 APG, 1.5 SPG and 1.3 BPG for Cleveland. He also happens to be shooting the ball well this season, as he is hitting 37.3% of his threes on the year. If the season ended today then that would be the third-best percentage of his career. Itíd be big if James could knock some threes down in this one, as it would open up the floor for him and his teammates to get to the basket. PF Kevin Love (21.8 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 1.1 SPG) is going to be the x-factor for Cleveland in this game, though. PG Kyrie Irving (23.9 PPG, 6.0 APG, 3.6 RPG, 1.1 SPG) is either going to be out or limited in this game, so Love will have a bigger role offensively. He had just 15 points on 5-for-14 shooting from the floor against the Bulls earlier in the season, and he needs to be more efficient than that on Wednesday. That game was, however, on the road, where Love is shooting just 41.5% from the floor. He is a lot better in Cleveland, shooting 46.6% in Quicken Loans Arena this season.