How the Chicago Bulls Can Topple the New-Look Cavs

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No team is unbeatable but the Cleveland Cavaliers are about to get a lot better with Kevin Love.  Here is how the Chicago Bulls take down their old rival.

Let Derrick Rose handle Kyrie Irving

If the Cavs are indeed going to win a championship, it will all have to start with their new Big Three of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.  Thankfully for the Bulls, when it comes to Irving, they have a secret weapon coming back.  For all the amazing things Derrick Rose can do on offense, it is his defensive ability that makes him a great player.  When healthy there are maybe one or two in the entire NBA better at defending opposing point guards.  So allowing Rose to match up with Irving makes sense.  Not only is he athletic enough to guard him on defense, but Irving has shown he’s not good enough to do the same.  It’s a potential mismatch Chicago must exploit.

Throw Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah at Kevin Love

No team has more front court depth than the Chicago Bulls.  They have the ability to not only score and rebound in the paint, but with Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah they also have two elite-level defenders.  It will be their job to tackle All-Star forward Kevin Love.  At age 25 he is in his prime and a top five offensive wizard in the league.  In averaging 26 points per game he can score in the paint or simply drop behind the three-point line and go bombs away.  It will be up to Gibson and Noah to make him work for every basket.

Trust Jimmy Butler

At the end of the day somebody has to guard LeBron James.  Yes, Tom Thibodeau has devised a defensive system based on help but that only goes so far.  There will be one-on-one situations and the Bulls must be ready for them.  That is why more than a few fans are grateful the team didn’t trade Jimmy Butler.  Last year proved one of his best on the defensive side.  He averaged 1.9 steals per game, 0.5 blocks and a defensive rating of 100 which puts him in the top ten among active players.  That is why he was voted to the All-NBA Defensive second team.  His athleticism and experience guarding James will prove vital in the many showdowns to come.

Use Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott

Lastly, but no less important is for Chicago to exploit the very thing they worked so hard in the off-season to build, which is their superior depth.  For all the starter talent the Cleveland Cavaliers have assembled, they have serious questions regarding their defense and their bench.  How fortunate then that the Bulls were busy adding an array of talented shooters including European star Nikola Mirotic and highly touted rookie Doug McDermott.  Not only are both big guys at 6’10” and 6’8″ respectively, but they also bring another dimension to the Bulls offense:  range.  His final year playing for Real Madrid in Spain, Mirotic shot 46.1% from behind the arc.  McDermott shot 44.9% his senior year at Creighton (which was down from 49% as a junior).  As long as Thibodeau actually plays them, they can help where it counts on the scoreboard.

In the total overview what do the Bulls have?  They have size.  They have depth.  They have defense.  They have shooting range and they have Derrick Rose.  If they can put that all together, not even the Cavaliers can stop them.

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Erik Lambert
Brainwashed by the sports culture as a wee lad, Erik was educated to be a writer at the prestigious Columbia College. He has spent the past 10 years covering the Bears.