Cavaliers at Bulls
The Chicago Bulls have had plenty of success over the last few seasons by taking care of business against their Central Division mates. They will be looking to post their 10th straight win in the series when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday. The Bulls have taken the last nine from the Cavaliers by an average of 18.7 points, including two already this season by 19.5 - both in Cleveland.
Chicago has had two days off after winning in Miami and has taken back-to-back games after a brief slip in which it dropped three of four. The offense was the problem during most of those losses but Carlos Boozer has picked up his play and Joakim Noah returned to the lineup with a double-double on Friday. The Bulls should not have much trouble scoring against the Cavaliers, who rank among the bottom third in points allowed have surrendered 100 points or more in four of their last five games.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Ohio (Cleveland), WGN (Chicago)
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (8-27): Cleveland has gotten strong play from guard Kyrie Irving and is beginning to see the emergence of second-year forward Tristan Thompson, who has averaged 12.9 rebounds in the last nine games while Anderson Varejao has been sidelined. But those two are struggling to cover for the many weaknesses on the roster, especially on the defensive end. The Cavaliers allowed the Houston Rockets to score 34 fourth-quarter points in a 112-104 loss on Saturday and needed a last-second jumper from Irving to escape with a 106-104 win at lowly Charlotte the previous night. Irving missed the last meeting with Chicago, a 95-85 home setback on Dec. 5.
ABOUT THE BULLS (18-13): Marco Belinelli scored 23 points and Luol Deng added 22 while Noah and Boozer each posted a double-double in the Dec. 5 meeting. The Bulls have had trouble scoring at times recently but exploited their advantage on the interior against the Heat, going to Boozer for 27 points and 12 rebounds. The veteran forward has posted four straight double-doubles and has averaged 29 points in two games this month. Chicago ranks third in the NBA in scoring defense, surrendering just 91.5 points, and has held four straight opponents under 95. The Bulls will be returning home for the first time since an embarrassing 91-81 loss to the Bobcats on Dec. 31 that ended Charlotte’s 18-game losing streak.
1. The Bulls signed G Daequan Cook on Sunday. Cook was released by Houston on Thursday after averaging 3.4 points in 16 games.
2. Cavaliers coach Byron Scott told reporters that he hoped Varejao (bruised right knee) could practice on Tuesday.
3. Cleveland waived F Samardo Samuels on Sunday.
Bulls 96, Cavaliers 82.