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Reply To: NBA • Saturday Service Plays • 1/23/16

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Preview: Chicago At Cleveland

When: 8:30 PM ET, Saturday, January 23, 2016
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio

A day after the sudden firing of head coach David Blatt, the Cleveland Cavaliers press on with a four-game homestand when they host the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night. Despite guiding the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals last season – his first at the helm – and to the top of the Eastern Conference this season, Blatt was let go and replaced by assistant Tyronn Lue.

“We are a team that struggles more than any good team I’ve been with – and this is my 24th year in the NBA – with prosperity,” general manager David Griffin said at a news conference Friday. “I’ve never seen a locker room not be as connected after wins as they need to be.” Perhaps Griffin was irked by his team’s 34-point loss to Golden State on Monday in a rematch of the finals, but the Cavaliers did rebound to win at Brooklyn and then knocked off the streaking Los Angeles Clippers by a 115-102 margin in Blatt’s final two games. LeBron James had 22 points and 12 assists as all five Cleveland starters scored in double figures versus the Clippers. The Bulls have lost six of their last eight after dropping a 110-101 decision in Boston on Friday.

TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, ABC

ABOUT THE BULLS (24-18): Chicago has allowed at least 106 points six times in its 2-6 stretch and dug itself a big hole Friday by giving up 64 first-half points to the Celtics. Jimmy Butler (28 points), Derrick Rose (27) and Pau Gasol (18) did their part on the other end but the rest of the Bulls combined for 28 points on 11-of-35 shooting. Chicago visits Cleveland twice in a stretch that sees the struggling squad play 10 of 12 games on the road.

ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (30-11): Blatt was 83-40 in Cleveland and leaves behind a unit that has excelled at home this season, with the exception of the loss to the Warriors. Cleveland is an Eastern Conference-best 16-2 at home and has won 39 straight games at Quicken Loans Arena when scoring at least 100 points. While the Bulls are forced to work through their issues during a road-heavy portion of the schedule, the Cavaliers are only one game into a span in which they play 16 of 22 at home.


1. Chicago defeated Cleveland by a 97-95 margin on Oct. 27 in the season opener for both teams.

2. Cavaliers SG J.R. Smith hit 6-of-7 from 3-point range against the Clippers and is shooting 42 percent from long distance at home.

3. The contest is the first of eight Saturday night games added to ABC’s broadcast schedule.

PREDICTION: Cavaliers 105, Bulls 97