Game 36: Cavs at Bulls
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM), WFUN (970 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio
WHAT HAPPENED: The Bulls-Cavs' match-up is normally decided before the tip-off. The Bulls have won their last 11 meetings against the Cavs. The Cavs haven't won in the lopsided series since March 19, 2010.
The 26-point beatdown is about on par with how the Cavs are usually manhandled by the Bulls.
Coach Byron Scott should show this game video to his team repeatedly. First off, the Bulls are so well-coached.. Tom Thibodeau is a master. He knows defense.
His team came into the game ranked third in points allowed, sixth in field-goal percentage and second in 3-point percentage.
Then they proceeded to take the Cavs apart.
They were most impressive on offense, setting screens, making cuts and making the right passes. For basketball purists, they are fun to watch.
The Cavs aren't.
They have one marquee player in Kyrie Irving. He's either asked to do too much or shoulders too much. It's the point guard's job to get his teammates involved. He just doesn't have enough around him to be competitive.
He finished with 15 points, three rebounds and six assists. He committed just three turnovers in 29 minutes. Irving has 19 turnovers in his last four games. He is such a good ballhandler and passer, he shouldn't be that careless with the ball.
He has to value every possession.
Guard Dion Waiters paced the Cavs with 18 points and six rebounds. He actually shot better than 50 percent from the field - a rarity - as he made 6 of 11 from the field. Most of his points came late in the game after it had been decided.
Scott yanked all of his starters in the fourth quarter. Thibodeau kept the pedal to the metal. Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah played deep into the fourth. Boozer had 24 points and 11 rebounds. Forward Luol Deng was particularly impressive with 19 points, five rebounds, seven assists and four steals. He's just a pro's pro.
Noah had 11 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks. With no Anderson Varejao to keep him in check, he had a free rein in the paint. Rookie center Tyler Zeller put up little resistance.
The more I'm seeing Zeller, the more I'm feeling that he's overwhelmed right now with being the starting center. Sure, this is the first time he's facing a lot of these guys. But he's not physically strong enough or tough enough to compete at a real high level.
He was way better off coming off the bench.
The Bulls looked great. I wonder why they are just 10-8 at home this year. It's a shocking stat in my opinion
Unfortunately, the Cavs aren't very good on the road (or at home, for that matter). They are 5-16 on the road this year. However, the Cavs were 3-1 in their previous four road games.
Varejao could be just days away from returning. It appears as if he'll try to practice on Tuesday. If there are no problems, he could return vs. Atlanta on Wednesday.
I'm skeptical whether he'll return from his knee "contusion" on Tuesday. I'm afraid there's a more serious problem with the knee. Hopefully, I'm wrong.
Guard Daniel Gibson can return on Tuesday from his concussion. If he can make a few shots, he'd be a welcomed sight right now.
With Luke Walton out on Monday to deal with a personal matter, Kevin Jones stepped in as the backup power forward. I think he'll replace Walton on a permanent basis.
Of course, Samardo Samuels is no longer in the picture. He went from promising prospect to being unceremoniously kicked to the curb.
It might be nice to get a gauge on whether the undersized Jones has any long-range potential. We already know Walton doesn/t.
OMRI WANTS OUT?: Cavs forward Omri Casspi has fallen completely out of Scott's rotation. He has reportedly asked to be traded. This was reported by Yahoo! Sports.
SOAPBOX TIME: Who in their right mind scheduled this game opposite the BCS Championship game between Alabama and Notre Dame? That person should be harshly reprimanded.
I thought the NBA normally stayed away from this game and the Final Four basketball games. Maybe I'm mistaken.
LAST GAME: The Cavs lost to Houston on Saturday, 112-104.
UP NEXT: The Cavs host Atlanta at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena.
SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. Luol Deng (6-9, 220)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 227) vs. Carlos Boozer (6-9, 266)
C Tyler Zeller (7-0, 250) vs. Joakim Noah (6-11, 232)
SG C.J. Miles (6-6, 222) vs. Rip Hamilton (6-7, 193)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 191) vs. Kirk Hinrich (6-4, 190)
Cavs – G Daniel Gibson, C Anderson Varejao
Bulls - G Derrick Rose
Jason Phillips, Kane Fitzgerald, J.T. Orr