Chicago Bulls at Cleveland Cavaliers 6:30pm on Comcast Sportsnet

The Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers put their perfect seasons on the line in Cleveland tonight where the winner will stake their claim for the central division lead. Two will enter undefeated, one will remain in this battle for divisional supremacy. [look it's not easy hyping a game against the Cavs on a Friday night.]

Team vs Star

The Cleveland Cavaliers are powered by Kyrie Irving, a legit young star in this league. Rose and Irving will likely battle for years the way people expected John Wall and Rose to battle before John Wall decided never to get better. However, the Bulls are bringing a knife to this PG gun fight.

What the Bulls do bring is a solid team that can play together while the Cavaliers are still looking to find pieces that can consistently perform around Irving. One advantage the Bulls have is Thibodeau's schemes very well to shut down individual star players on other teams that can't get the appropriate ball movement and find multiple scoring options.

Meanwhile, the Cavaliers are powered by many young players and likely don't have the discipline to play solid defense for 24 seconds every possession, get back on defense as consistently, or stay true to their defensive principles all game long. The Bulls have more depth and talent spread out across the roster, but Cleveland has the star.

How to stop Kyrie Irving?

With Derrick Rose in the house, it wouldn't be such a big deal. Rose has the size, strength, and quickness to make Kyrie's life awfully difficult for most of the game. With Rose out, the Bulls will count on Kirk Hinrich to apply a series of grabs, holds, and veteran moves to slow down a guy he has no hope of staying with athletically.

Kyrie will likely break through the initial defense frequently at night, and Chicago's big men will need to rotate over in order to play help defense quite a bit while Luol Deng and others will need to be quick on their rotations to help the helper.

Don't be surprised to see more Noah/Gibson time on the court tonight as the Bulls may put a premium on help defense around the basket, an area which Carlos Boozer has historically struggled mightily.

Where does Chicago get its points?

The Bulls should attack whomever Tristan Thompson is defending on defense. He doesn't have the size/strength to defend either Boozer or Noah, and Chicago should get plenty of opportunities against him regardless of whom he's defending.

Chicago will also need to stick with its standard game plan of a five man offense with plenty of ball movement in order to open up holes against a pedestrian defensive team. Playing inside out should generate plenty of good looks, and Chicago should look to take more three point shots than the nine they hoisted up against the Kings on opening night.

Rip Hamilton should also have plenty of opportunities as he'll be matched up by rookie Dion Waiters. His hustle and veteran moves should work well against a player still getting acclimated to the league whom he also has several inches of height on. The mid range jumper should be there for Hamilton all night long, will he consistently knock it down?

What does the game two rotation look like?

Nazr Mohammed should get a few more minutes tonight due to a favorable matchup when the Bulls bring size. Thibodeau should realize he can't ride Noah for 40 minutes a night either. As noted above, Taj Gibson could play more over Boozer as well, if the Bulls need more help to shut down the lane against Kyrie Irving.

Keys to a win

The Bulls formula for victory is simple every night, and they'll need to apply again tonight.

1: Play team defense for 48 minutes
2: Rebound the basketball
3: Share the ball on offense

The Bulls will attempt to outwork teams every night and overcome a lack of shot creators by team play. They were successful through one game, but I'm not optimistic about the formula repeating tonight on the road against wh

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  • I'm waiting for this version of the Bulls offense and team to run into one of these mediocre teams like "Cleveland" to make the Bulls offense look like crap, its coming, cause there's no sure fire scorer for the Bulls.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Bulls have a pretty easy early schedule.

    Their more difficult games will be OKC (11/8), BOS (11/12), and then they go on the Circus Trip out west

  • In reply to Reese1:

    The offense already looked like crap. What will change is running into an opposing offense that we can't slow down enough to allow us to compete.

  • WOW Doug you sure make this game against 2 unbeaten powerhouses sound amazingly entertaining! LOL

    I wish we at least had another young big to groom but the Bulls don't do good with babysitting...you more or less sink or swim after a few dunks in the deep end of the pool! Taj doing great swimming, JJ and Tyrus were very athletic but show offs and drowned in the Bulls pool!

    Hinrich is the starting PG no doubt but I hope Thibs goes with Nate if Hiny isn't moving his hiny enough guarding Irving!
    This is a hard call and while Thibs is a defensive specialist no doubt, he will probably stick with his starter Hinrich because he hopes that will give the Bulls the best chance to get the other guys going with Hinrich being the quarter back.
    We are just so weak at our guard rotations it makes you very envious to see the Kings's young guys and Thornton off the bench who could start on many teams especially ours!

  • In reply to smiley:

    Hopefully Nikola Mirotic is busy being groomed for us ;)

  • I'll say it before the game, but can't we just trade Bozo for Varejao, it would be sort of like getting Asik back for Bozo. A Noah, Gibson, Varejao front line would drive most teams to the brink of insanity.

    Varejao has $27 million left over 3 years while Bozo has $47 over those same 3 years, so I know that Cleveland would never consider it, especially after Andy's game one performance, but would/should the Bulls consider it.

    The only reason for the Bulls not to do it, would be the loss of the amnesty option on Bozo, which would likely kill the max cap room deal for 2014, but would still leave room for an 8 figure free agent.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    1) We are getting anybody of significance for Boozer...

    2) Let alone Varejao. Varejao is a good, defensive, rebounding big who hustles and most importantly, is on a bargain of a deal.

    3) IF the Bulls had this opportunity and decided not to do it, the 'only reason for the Bulls not to do it'....would be because they're complete and utter morons. Varejao > Boozer everyday

    4) Since we're talking about Boozer. I wish Boozer would put up a 30pt-20rb average, that way we could trade him. And I would throw in a conditional 1stRounder just as a cherry on top.

    5) Boozer+Butler+Teague ...for... EGordon+Warrick

  • In reply to YouBlewwIt:

    *aren't

  • The big concern to me is the offense and especially the dreadful 3point shooting, hopefully they just need some time to get going but if our offense will revolve around midrange jumpers and shooting 40% or below.....its going to be tough winning games. Rebounding advantage wins games if it gets decent scoring support. Hopefully they can continue getting to the line and push the ball/fastbreaks, they will need all the help scoring the ball. I'm sure they are already scouting out the next tall defensive center to take the place of Omer Asik for next year's draft. Get us some real 3point shooters as well Mr. Garpax.

  • Well, looks like the Bulls just rolled in this one.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Yeah they did, Doug. Cleveland was out of place on nearly every defensive rotation, and Chicago was moving the ball well. Jumpers were falling tonight, nice night from the guard position overall. The bulls, alternatively, were rotating nicely, and collapsing on Irving, frustrating him early and keeping him from finding a rhythm. Boozer had a second straight good game, great efficiency for the minutes played. Hamilton simply couldn't miss. Hard to imagine him having a better game than tonight, he shot the lights out in the third. Was an interesting game to watch, I was watching the cleveland broadcast, and their color guy had some interesting things to say about the Bulls. He maintained that the Bull's ball movement was better without Rose, having seen the Bulls sans Rose for 2 games last year and 1 game this year. Don't call the hangman just yet, though, Rose isn't quite a ballstopper, but its an interesting aspect to look at nonetheless. I feel like the players have a tendency to settle in a little bit when Rose pounds it outside the three point line, whereas the off the ball movement is more active with Hinrich out there. I felt this way to a small degree last year, but with this core obviously practicing quite a bit together this year without Rose, it really shows. Obviously the team isn't better without Derrick, but certainly they have been pretty cohesive thus far in his absence.

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