National Basketball Association
Preview
Cleveland at Chicago
When: 8:00 PM ET, Thursday, March 30, 2017
Where: United Center, Chicago, Illinois

The Cleveland Cavaliers figure that it's only a matter of time before they pull out of their recent funk and re-establish themselves as the top team in the Eastern Conference and an NBA title contender. The Chicago Bulls, who host the Cavaliers on Thursday, are hoping Cleveland takes its time finding that playoff switch.

The Cavaliers fell to 6-9 in March with Monday's embarrassing 103-74 loss in San Antonio and dropped a half-game behind the Boston Celtics in the race for the top spot in the East. "It's a delicate time right now for our team," Cleveland superstar LeBron James told reporters. "A lot of people talking ... guys in the locker room. I'm not saying it's for the bad. We've got a couple guys that's shown leadership, some guys that's been in the fray before that's giving their opinions." The Bulls won three of their last five games and did themselves a big favor by earning a 109-94 win over a team in front of them in the standings at the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday. Chicago currently occupies the No. 9 spot in the East and will play its next two games against teams above it in the East before finishing out the regular season with six straight against teams out of contention.

TV: 8 p.m. ET, TNT

ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (47-26): Cleveland is struggling at the defensive end this month, and coach Tyronn Lue was critical of his team's overall speed after Monday's setback. "The crazy part about it. We start off the right way, but teams are so much faster than us," Lue told reporters. "They just look so much faster than we are. I mean. I mean, damn. It just looks like, just beat us on the dribble, transition, just looking faster." The Cavaliers are surrendering an average of 114.8 points while going 2-4 over the last six games.

ABOUT THE BULLS (35-39): Chicago struggles with consistency and has yet to post back-to-back wins this month. "A lot of times when we get slapped in the face, when we get punched in the mouth, when the adversity hits us, we don't handle it well," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg told reporters. "We talk about it, every game it's going to happen at some point. You're going to have to handle adversity, you're going to have to get through it and it will determine the outcome of the game." The Bulls always seem to get up to face Cleveland and will be bidding for a four-game season series sweep on Thursday.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Cavaliers SG Kyle Korver, who missed seven games earlier this month with a foot injury, will be out Thursday with a similar ailment.

2. Bulls PF Cristiano Felicio (back) missed the last three games but went through a full practice on Wednesday and is probable for Thursday.

3. Chicago took four straight and six of the last seven in the series.

PREDICTION: Cavaliers 113, Bulls 107
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away Day Night Div Conf
Cleveland 47-26 L2 28-8 19-18 4-2 43-24 7-7 31-12
Chicago 35-39 W1 21-16 14-23 2-4 33-35 8-7 23-22
Last Meeting
Cleveland Chicago
Date Away Home Pts Reb FG% Pts Reb FG%
2/25/17 CHI 117 CLE 99 99 40 46.2 117 47 49.5
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Points Player Total FG% FTM
Cleveland K. Irving 34 52.0 6
Chicago D. Wade 20 50.0 1
Rebounds Player Total Off Def
Cleveland K. Irving 9 0 9
Chicago J. Butler 10 1 9
Assists Player  
Cleveland K. Irving 7
Chicago J. Butler 10
Season
Points Player Total FG% FTM
Cleveland L. James 1780 54.5 329
Chicago J. Butler 1664 44.4 561
Rebounds Player Total Off Def
Cleveland T. Thompson 695 272 423
Chicago R. Lopez 504 248 256
Assists Player  
Cleveland L. James 597
Chicago R. Rondo 450
Quickchart Matchup
Cleveland Cleveland Off vs  Chicago Chicago Defense
Cleveland Off vs Chicago - Points For 110.0 Points For
Cleveland Off vs Chicago - Points Against 103.4 Points Against
Cleveland - FG% 47.0 FG%
Chicago - FG% 46.2 FG%
Cleveland - Reb 43.4 Reb
Chicago - Reb 43.0 Reb
Chicago Chicago Off vs  Cleveland Cleveland Defense
Chicago Off vs Cleveland - Points For 102.4 Points For
Chicago Off vs Cleveland - Points Against 106.8 Points Against
Chicago - FG% 44.3 FG%
Cleveland - FG% 45.8 FG%
Chicago - Reb 45.8 Reb
Cleveland - Reb 44.2 Reb