Another day, another incredible performance from LeBron James and another win from the Cleveland Cavaliers - that seems to be the team’s formula over the last month. The Cavaliers will try to coax another transcendent performance out of their superstar and ride it to a 12th consecutive win when they visit the NBA-worst Chicago Bulls on Monday.
James scored the team’s final 13 points in a 116-111 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday and is averaging 28.3 points on 58.4 percent shooting. “It’s just experience,” James said. “I’ve been in a lot of big games, regular season, postseason, The Finals where you have to come through for your teammates. I just try to be as clutch as possible late in the game. ... It’s an honor for me to be able to even have 14 guys and they look at me personally like ‘Ok, it’s your time.’ I just try to make the right reads and make the right decisions to help us win.” The Bulls are having some trouble finding that player on which to lean late in games and suffered one-point losses in the last two contests to stretch their current slide to eight straight. “We’re right there, two games in a row,” guard Jerian Grant told the team’s website. “Could be two wins with one basket, one change. So, it’s tough. But we’re hanging in there because we see that we are right there. When you can say that you were in the game and gave yourself a chance to win, it is taking a step forward.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FS Ohio (Cleveland), WGN (Chicago)
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (16-7): James thought he would have some help this season in the fourth quarter from former MVP Derrick Rose, who remains away from the team pondering his future while dealing with a sprained ankle. Rose sat out the last 12 games but reportedly has recently had positive dialogue with the organization. “Whenever he’s ready to tell us or whatever, we’re ready for that,” James told ESPN.com prior to Saturday’s win. “You don’t ever fast-track someone’s process of what they may be going through. When they’re ready to talk about it or ready to bring it to the forefront, as his teammates, we’ll be ready for it.”
ABOUT THE BULLS (3-18): Chicago dealt with a rough back-to-back at Denver on Thursday and home against the Sacramento Kings on Friday and came within a basket of winning each. “The biggest thing is to keep taking positive steps,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg told reporters. “I thought we really competed, especially (Friday), go into Denver and a tough back to back. I thought the guys went out with the right mentality. ... The biggest thing moving forward is keeping it positive with them and trying to make winning plays down the stretch, which we have not done the last two nights.” Rookie power forward Lauri Markkanen is trying to stay positive while battling through a slump that has him shooting 29.9 percent from the floor over the last seven games.
1. Bulls F Bobby Portis (arm) sat out Friday and is questionable for Monday.
2. Cavaliers PF Kevin Love recorded seven double-doubles during the 11-game winning streak.
3. Cleveland snapped a five-game losing streak in the series with a 119-112 home win on Oct. 24 behind 34 points and 13 assists from James.
PREDICTION: Cavaliers 115, Bulls 103