Cavaliers minus 3 hosting Bulls 

The Bulls and Cavaliers have been two of the major success stories at the quarter mark of this NBA season. Chicago leads the Central Division at 17-8. Cleveland has the second-best spread mark in the NBA behind only Golden State at 18-7 ATS. 

So why get involved with a side in this matchup of two play-on teams?

Two major reasons. The Cavaliers are in a good situational spot and the Bulls’ rotation is down key contributors greatly stretching their depth. 

Chicago enters this matchup fat and happy having won four in a row with the latest being a satisfying, 109-97, home win against the Nuggets this past Monday. The Bulls accomplished that minus their leading scorer, DeMar DeRozan. He’s going to miss this game, too, because of COVID-19 safety protocols. The Bulls also are down guards Coby White (illness) and Alex Caruso (hamstring). 

That leaves the Bulls with a starting lineup of Nikola Vucevic, Zach LaVine, Lonzo Ball, Derrick Jones Jr. and rookie Ayo Dosunmu, while elevating the minutes of Troy Brown Jr., Tony Bradley and formerly seldom-used Matt Thomas. 

This is not a strong rotation. The Cavaliers have improved to the point where they can exploit that especially being back home. Cleveland is on a two-game losing streak. Note, though, those defeats occurred to the Jazz by one point and to the Bucks. Previously, the Cavaliers had won four in a row with the last three of those victories coming on the road against Wizards, Heat and Mavericks. 

The Cavaliers can hurt the Bulls inside with their underrated front line of Jarrett Allen, former Bull Lauri Markkanen and good-looking roobie Evan Mobley. Darius Garland has played great stepping up for injured Collin Sexton in the backcourt. 

Cleveland gives up the second-fewest points per game in the NBA at 102.4. The Bulls are going to have problems denting this defense without DeRozan and his 26.4 points per game. I don’t see where the Bulls make up for that. I also see the Cavaliers, especially Markkanen, being the more motivated team. 

The oddsmaker agrees, opening Cleveland a short favorite despite the Bulls having the superior record and being on a four-game win streak. The oddsmaker has it right. 

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