Bulls

Bulls, Derrick Rose dominate NBA merchandise sales

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Bulls, Derrick Rose dominate NBA merchandise sales

By Sarah Langs

Make the playoffs for seven straight seasons and 10 of the last 11, and basketball fans will want to wear your logo. The Bulls finished atop the NBA in merchandise sales for the 2014-15 season on NBAStore.com.

A big boost to that league-leading total came in the form of Derrick Rose jerseys. Rose’s jersey was the fifth-best selling on the NBA site, despite his spending a portion of the season injured.

Rose has been within the Top 5 in jersey sales for each of the last six seasons. The Bulls finished third last year in merchandise sales.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

In team sales, the Bulls were followed by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder. In individual players, Rose was preceded by LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant.

Bulls, Cavaliers making no excuses in spite of stilted travel schedule

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USA Today

Bulls, Cavaliers making no excuses in spite of stilted travel schedule

Snowy conditions in Chicago marred both the Bulls and Cavaliers' travel plans ahead of their bout Saturday night at the UC. Each team had its flights from respective departure cities (for the Bulls, Philadelphia; for the Cavaliers, Memphis) overnight on Friday, and didn't arrive in Chicago until Saturday morning.

But, before the game, both coaches scoffed good-naturedly at the notion that the stilted schedule might impact their preparation time or energy.

"We still showed up for our meal in Chicago at the same time," Cavaliers head coach John Beilein said. "I think with the NBA what I've observed is the long nap time in the afternoon is more important than anything for these guys. So we didn't get much sleep the night before, had to get up early. But we got to the hotel and ate at 11, and from 12 to 4 our guys got some pretty good rest."

"This has happened before. We're on a back-to-back, we need to do the basics better. I haven't talked about the travel, I'm not going to talk to the team about how difficult it was or whatever. I don't do that," Jim Boylen said. "This is the pro part, the professional part, so we gotta come out and play hard."

That the Bulls will do, as they do every night. And perhaps, in spite of their grueling January slate, they might find an edge over a Cavaliers team currently running a gauntlet of their own.

For the Cavs, this game is the last of a six-game road trip, on which they're 2-3 to this point. In that context, there might not be a more nightmarish matchup than the Bulls, given their ability to force turnovers. The Bulls' aggressive, trapping defensive scheme yields 17.8 opponent turnovers per game, the most in the NBA. The Cavaliers commit the second-most turnovers per game in the league (16.3) and own the league's highest turnover rate (16.4%).

"We're playing a very different team now with the way they play defense, very aggressive, steal the ball a lot," Beilein said. "We tried to show as much film as we could without wearing [the players] out, make sure that we were fresh seeing as we're coming off a back-to-back. They're leading the league in turning people over, we're leading the league in turning the ball over, so that'll be an interesting question whether we can solve that today."

"We always hope to have active hands and make people play through our hands," Boylen said. "Hopefully [we] do what we do."

The Bulls enter play 15-28, the Cavaliers 12-30. And both are coming off losses on the front end of their back-to-backs — the Bulls 100-89 to the 76ers and the Cavaliers 113-109 to the upstart Grizzlies. Logistical misfortunes aside, there's a game to be played tonight, and don't expect any excuses from either side.

"Both of us [the Cavaliers and Bulls] are coming off tough losses and we both have to deal with it, and you know, we'll see," Beilein said. "Hopefully it's going to be a really good game, and whichever team can battle that adversity the best is gonna win." 

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What to watch for: Bulls look to level season series with Cleveland Cavaliers

What to watch for: Bulls look to level season series with Cleveland Cavaliers

For the second time this season, the Bulls are set to square off with the Cavaliers, this time in Chicago. The game tips off at 7 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Chicago — until then, here's what to watch for:

Cavaliers’ last five games (2-3)

  • Jan. 17 — L at Grizzlies: 113-109

  • Jan. 14 — L at Clippers: 128-103

  • Jan. 13 — L at Lakers: 128-99

  • Jan. 11 — W at Nuggets: 111-103

  • Jan. 9 — W at Pistons: 115-112 (OT)

Storyline(s) to watch

This is as peak a ‘dog days of January’ NBA game as they come. For the Cavaliers (12-30), it’s the last of an absolutely grueling six-game road trip dating back to Jan. 9. For the Bulls (15-28), it’s the sixth game in nine nights. Both teams are on the back-end of back-to-backs and, of course, both were snowed out of Chicago until this morning after out-of-state games yesterday.

So, yeah. Legs will be tired. The Cavaliers are bottom-six in the league in offensive rating (25th), defensive rating (29th) and net rating (30th). The Bulls are 2-8 in their last ten and remain without a host of crucial characters in Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter Jr. and Daniel Gafford. It’s a great opportunity for the Bulls to pick up a much-needed victory, but in general, this has the feel of a ‘Murphy’s Law’ type of evening for all parties involved. It's honestly kind of exciting.

Player(s) to watch: The Youngins

The Cavaliers started the season with what was expected to be one of the clankiest backcourts in the NBA — forgivable because the duo of Collin Sexton and Darius Garland are in their sophomore and rookie seasons, respectively. 

In reality, it’s been a mixed bag. Sexton, specifically, has shown major scoring promise and grabbed the reins of the offense with gumption — by a decent margin, he leads the Cavs in shots per game (16.2) and usage rate (26.2%). His field goal percentage is up from year one and he’s shown the ability to get to the rim consistently, but his 3-point efficiency has plummeted after a sharper-shooting second half to last season and his assist-to-usage ratio is in the second percentile of point guards, per Cleaning the Glass. As a team, the Cavaliers have the highest turnover rate in the league. Still, the sparks (and certainly the assertiveness) are there.

Bulls fans have their own lovable, inefficient youngin to spur on. Coby White is coming off a solid outing in Philadelphia, and the team will need his energy in this one. Something in my gut tells me this could be a big Coby game.

Matchup to watch: Frontcourts

There’s layers to this one. In an immediate sense, the matchup between the Cavaliers’ starting frontcourt of Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson against Lauri Markkanen, Luke Kornet, Thad Young and Cristiano Felicio will be key to the game. When these teams met on Oct. 30 (the Cavs won 117-111), Love (20) and Thompson (10) combined to snag 30 boards and the Cavaliers, as a team, outrebounded the Bulls 57-41. Energy on the glass has been a fulcrum point in more than a handful of Bulls’ losses this season.

And in an existential sense, the Bulls need more from Markkanen. Love and Thompson are hounds on the glass, but neither are defensive stoppers. It’s going to take more than one bounceback performance to assuage growing concern about Markkanen’s regression, but filling the stat sheet against a bottom-of-the-barrel defense running on dead legs would be a good start. As always, watch closely the frontcourt minutes distribution. Against the Sixers, Markkanen played only one minute more than Kornet (and took one fewer shot) and three less than Young.

Side note: This isn’t the worst game to be on the lookout for another ‘ticked off Kevin Love’ moment of three. For all the reasons enumerated in the first section, anything and everything is possible tonight.

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Bulls games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.