The Cleveland Cavaliers put an 11-game home winning streak on the line against perhaps the only team hotter than them in the Eastern Conference when they host the Chicago Bulls on Thursday. The Cavaliers had a five-game run snapped Tuesday in Milwaukee, where they suffered a 119-116 defeat, but the squad has claimed 18 of 20 overall and felt good about a fourth-quarter comeback that made it tight in the end.
“A couple things didn’t go our way but we did a good job being resilient and coming back,” guard Dwyane Wade told reporters. One of Cleveland’s easier victories during the hot stretch was a 22-point rout in Chicago earlier this month, but the Bulls are a very different team this time around. They improved to 7-0 since forward Nikola Mirotic returned from facial fractures with Wednesday’s 112-94 rout of the Orlando Magic at home. Mirotic had 15 points and 10 rebounds and is averaging 21.8 points and 8.5 rebounds in his last six games.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, WGN-TV (Chicago), FSN Ohio (Cleveland)
ABOUT THE BULLS (10-20): Mirotic paced a solid effort by Chicago’s bench in the win over the Magic, as seven reserves combined for 54 points. Fellow forward Bobby Portis - the man who gave Mirotic the facial fractures in their preseason fight - has also stepped up his game and is averaging 14 points and 7.1 boards in 21.6 minutes this month. Forward Denzel Valentine posted his second double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds against Orlando while handing out five assists, his best total in December.
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (23-9): LeBron James was his usual dominant self with 39 points and seven assists in the loss to the Bucks, while Wade made 4-of-6 from 3-point range en route to 14 points off the bench. “Obviously, tonight (Wade) showed what he’s capable of still doing,” James told the media. “It’s a luxury having a guy like that coming off the bench.” Wade and Kevin Love had 24 points apiece and James added 23 in the win at Chicago on Dec. 4.
1. Cleveland’s streak of consecutive games with at least 10 3-pointers sits at a franchise-record 21, six shy of matching the NBA record set last season by Houston.
2. Chicago is 1-4 in the second game of back-to-backs.
3. Love has seven double-doubles in his last 10 games.
PREDICTION: Cavaliers 108, Bulls 100