The Chicago Bulls will take their talents to Cleveland (Joakim Noah’s favorite travel destination) to face off against the division rival Cavaliers. This one will be a clash of young point guards as rookie standout, Kyrie Irving takes on MVP Derrick Rose.
The projected starting lineups are as follows,
PG Rose 22.4 ppg Irving 18.5 ppg
SG Hamilton* 12.5 ppg Parker 5.9 ppg
SF Deng 15.6 ppg Casspi 7.6 ppg
PF Boozer 15.5 ppg Jamison 17.3 ppg
C Noah 9.7 ppg Varejao 10.8 ppg
Much improved from last season, the 13-20 Cavaliers have playoff hopes but are three and a half games out of the 8 seed in the East. The Cavs look to break a streak of three losses in a row against the Bulls. The Bulls (29-8) have won four in a row and 11 of 13.
The Bulls have won their last five against the Cavs and have not lost to them since someone by the name of LeBron James helped knock the Bulls out of the Playoffs in 2010.
In their only other game this season, the Bulls scored 114 points and held the Cavs to a measly 75. Look for the Bulls to come out strong and put the inferior Cavaliers away as early as possible.
A battle of doppelgangers at the Center position will be an interesting matchup tonight as Joakim Noah and Anderson Varejao fight for rebounds in the paint. Varejao is having an excellent season averaging a double-double. The Cavs version of Joakim is dealing with a wrist injury and is projected to start, but may not play in this one.
Look for Rose to continue his hot streak against the sub par defense of the Cavaliers. I expect the Bulls to go to Carlos Boozer early and work off of a solid post game. The Cavs allow 97.7 points per game so the Bulls will certainly try to exploit that. Luol Deng will try to come back from a mediocre performance against the Spurs. Richard Hamilton is averaging 16.5 minutes per game in his last two starts, but don’t expect to see that number jump up too much against the Cavs.
The Quicken Loans Arena can sometimes be a hostile environment but Derrick Rose and the Bulls should have no problem silencing the Cavs fans at 6:30 Central time on March 2.
Ps. Please watch this if you haven’t seen it
All stats are from Espn.com
*Espn shows Ronnie Brewer in the starting lineup