Cleveland Cavaliers (-1, 201.5 o/u) at Chicago Bulls
The All-Star break looms at week’s end. But, before the players get a few days of well-earned rest, the Cleveland Cavaliers (33-21, 12-12 away) travel to the Windy City to take on the Chicago Bulls (33-20, 14-11 home).
The Bulls, who are only a half-game ahead of the Cavs in the Central Division, may be in trouble tonight; Jimmy Butler, who is scoring 20.4 PPG to lead the team, may not play after injuring his shoulder in Tuesday’s 104-86 victory over the Kings.
This means more pressure will be on Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol to score in bunches against Cleveland’s athletic defense. The latter came up big on Tuesday, scoring 26 points and adding 16 rebounds against Sacramento.
“I play the right way, I play hard, I try to help my team to win and right now I’m playing at a high level,” said a confident Gasol after the game. “I just want to keep it going.”
Look for Chicago, which has struggled of late losing ten of its last 18 games, to rely on the rising Tony Snell if Butler can’t suit up. Over the past ten games, the 6’7″ wing is scoring 11.2 PPG and shooting just over 50-percent. He had a career-high 24 on 9/11 shooting against the Kings.
Despite the impressive win last time out, the Bulls know they have a lot of work to do. “We still have a long way to go,” said Rose. “We still have to get everyone on the same page. We are getting better each game. Even in our losses, we improve in some quarters. It’s one game; we’ve got to keep this going.”
The Cavs, who are 14-1 since Jan. 15, are coming off a 113-93 rout of the Miami Heat last night in Cleveland. Seven players scored in double-digits for Cleveland, including LeBron James (18 points, ten rebounds, and seven assists).
The only hiccup for the Cavs last night was when Kevin Love was poked in the eye. The power forward left the game and it is unclear at this point whether he will play tonight.
Even though the Bulls could be without Butler, look for Rose and Gasol to step up their game. However, with the Cavs 8-15-1 o/u on the road, the play is the under (201.5).
(Photo credit: Keith Allison (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode].)