Chicago Bulls Stat Monkey Brief: Bulls/Cavs (12/5/12)

With Rip Hamilton still out, Nate 'The Slam Dunk King' Robinson has been seeing his usage and production dramatically increase.

The Bulls lost an ugly one last night at home to the Pacers and struggled greatly on offense without Rip Hamilton. The Bulls depth will continue to be tested as they head on a short two game road trip starting tonight. They face off first against a struggling Cavs team who is without superstar Kyrie Irving.

Life Without Rip

Rip Hamilton was a big part of the Bulls offense, averaging 13.9 points per game and using 25.5% of possessions while on the court. With him out, the Bulls struggled mightily on offensive, posting their worst offensive rating of the season, an abysmal 89.2 points per 100 possessions. In Rip’s absence, Belinelli got the start, however, he only used 15.4% of team possessions while on the floor.

Others, like Nate Robinson, had to step up and pick up the remainder of the slack. Robinson actually did a solid job (relative to the rest of the Bulls) of increasing his usage, using 38.9% of possessions while maintaining an offensive rating of 100. Nate only shot 5 of 13 from the field, but two of his FGs were 3-pointers and he did well to get to the line, shooting 7 of 7. It should be interesting to see how the Bulls offense, which was already seeking an identity, continues to evolve without Rip.

Tonight’s Matchup

The last time these two teams faced off, the Bulls played arguably their best game of the season, hitting a season-high offensive rating of 122.3. This isn’t too surprising, however, as the Cavs are one of the worst defensive teams in the league this year (defensive rating of 108.7). The struggling Bulls offense should still be able to put up some points, despite their injury woes. On the other side of the ball, the Bulls have been coming together on defense, falling below the 100 mark in defensive efficiency. The player who could cause the Bulls the most trouble is Anderson Varejao, who has one of the highest offensive ratings of any player (with serious minutes) in the league at 123.