Cavs look to bounce back from opening night loss

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The Cavs face a tough early season test against the Bulls tonight. The Bulls are coming off convincing wins against the Knicks. It is believed by most that this will be an Eastern Conference Finals preview. The whole off season the national sports media has touted the Bulls, and frankly I’m tired of it. The Cavs are a better team than the Bulls. If you need a reason to hate the Bulls just remember in the 2010 playoffs when Joakim Noah said, “You think Cleveland’s cool? I never heard anybody say I’m going to Cleveland on vacation. What’s so good about Cleveland?” He later summed it up by saying, “Cleveland sucks”. LeBron and company silenced him in 2010, now we hope to do the same thing four years later. Don’t be surprised if this is a low scoring game that has a couple hard fouls. Both teams will be trying to send an early season message to the other.

The Bulls seem to always have teams with good defense, and this team is no exception. The big question for the Bulls will be who will cover LeBron. The logical choice would be to have Jimmy Butler on him, but Butler will be out for a couple weeks and will miss this game. Look for LeBron to have a big game and shake off the season opener. I expect to see many different people try their hand at guarding LeBron with many defenders collapsing into the paint. LeBron needs to find a way to score more and get to the foul line more. He is at his best when he is drives and kicks to open shooters, not when he is settling for contested jumpers. I wouldn’t be surprised to see LeBron try to attack the paint early and get some of the Bulls’ big men in foul trouble early. I expect LeBron to find his game and silence his critics yet again.

The Bulls also boast of having one of the best front courts in the NBA, anchored by Noah and Gasol. It will be a good test to see if Love, Varejao, and Thompson can hold their own on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. Also I would like to see the Cavs win the rebound battle, which is something we did not do against the Knicks.

My matchup to watch is Kyrie vs. Rose. A concern for the Cavs will be who will guard Rose. The Cavs played the Bulls in Columbus this preseason and could not find a way to stop Rose. In an ideal world we’d like to find a way to stop Rose without having LeBron cover him. It would be nice to see if Kyrie or Dion could step up on defense. It will also be a good test for Kyrie. Kyrie outplayed Rose this summer in the FIBA World Cup, let’s hope he can keep this up. It is time for Kyrie to take his place as the best point guard in the league. He has the team around him to do it. This game is a national platform for him to do it. I expect Kyrie to have a similar game to the one he had on opening night.

This game will be tough for the Cavs to win. The Cavs are coming off an emotionally draining loss to the Knicks on Thursday and are forced to go on the road in a hostile environment. It is the Bulls’ home opener. It should be a good test to see how the Cavs face a hostile environment. For the Cavs to win this game, we need to drive to the basket more and look for shots that way instead of settling for contested jumpers. I also look for the Cavs bench to have a bigger effect on this game than they did in the opening game. Only four Cavs bench players received playing time in the first game. I look for that number to go up since we are playing back to back games. If the Cavs could find a way to win this game it will send a strong message to the league that the Cavs are the best team in the Eastern Conference. I believe the Cavs will pull this one out, and exorcise some of the demons that haunted them opening night.

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