Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Chicago Bulls

Daniel Collins

Written by: Daniel Collins

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The Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls are one of the biggest rivals in the NBA. This rivalry has certainly had its ups and downs, but there were periods when these were two of the top teams in the league. This rivalry dates back to 1970 when the Cavaliers joined the NBA as an expansion team, and the two teams are still bitter rivals to this day. The Cavaliers and Bulls both compete in the Central Division in the Eastern Conference, and they have both taken turns being the kings of that division. The Lakers and Celtics get a lot of credit for being the best rivalry in basketball, but Midwesterners will always point to this one. Not only have there been some great Cavaliers and Bulls teams throughout the years, but arguably the two best players in NBA History have played in this rivalry. Michael Jordan and LeBron James both played huge roles in this rivalry, and fans of each team will always say that their guy was the best player in NBA History.

History of Cavaliers vs. Bulls Rivalry

Since the Cavaliers came into the NBA before the 1970 season, the Cavs and Bulls have played each other a total of 249 times. Chicago holds a commanding 145-104 lead over their rivals from Cleveland, and they will let you hear about it. The Bulls and Cavs have also squared off seven different times in the NBA Playoffs, and Chicago has won 20 of the 34 games played in the postseason. This series really got going in the late 1980’s and early 90’s when Michael Jordan was leading his Bulls team over the Cavaliers to playoff wins year after year. When LeBron James was drafted by the Cavaliers, the rivalry was renewed and the two teams met in the Eastern Conference playoffs in 2010 and 2015. One of the most legendary plays in NBA history occurred when Michael Jordan hit a game-winning shot in game 5 of the Eastern Conference playoffs against Craig Ehlo and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Unfortunately, this rivalry has died off again in recent seasons as both the Cavaliers and the Bulls are in rebuilding stages. The only real battle at this time is for the best odds to land the number 1 draft pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

The Chicago Bulls came into the NBA in 1966 and began play as an expansion team in 1966-67. Johnny “Red” Kerr was the first head coach in Bulls history, and he guided them to the NBA Playoffs in their first year in the league. The Chicago Bulls remain the only expansion franchise to reach the playoffs in their inaugural season. The 1984 NBA Draft forever changed the Bulls franchise when they selected Michael Jordan with the third pick in the draft, and “Air Jordan” would eventually lead the team to many championships. The Bulls play all of their home games at the United Center in downtown Chicago, but they’ve also enjoyed success in the raucous Chicago Stadium. The 1995-96 Chicago Bulls team is one of the greatest in league history, posting a 72-10 record in Michael Jordan’s return to the NBA.

The Cleveland Cavaliers struggled in their first few years after joining the NBA in 1970. Cleveland failed to finish better than sixth place in the Eastern Conference in their first five years in the league. The Cavaliers reached the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in 1992, but they were dispatched by the Chicago Bulls in six games. The greatest moment in Cavaliers franchise history occurred in 2003 when they selected LeBron James with the top overall pick in the draft. James brought the team instant success and eventually led them to their only NBA Championship. The Cavaliers play their home games at Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland.

Head to Head Comparison of Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Chicago Bulls

Odds are that even the casual NBA fan can tell you that the Bulls are one of the best franchises in the modern era. When Jordan was playing for the Bulls in the 90’s, they were always the preseason prediction for NBA Champion. Chicago has won six NBA Championships, while the Cavaliers are stuck on just one. The two teams are very close in division titles, with the Bulls having nine while the Cavaliers have just seven. Cleveland has won five Eastern Conference titles, while the Bulls have won just six. Neither the Bulls nor Cavaliers will be preseason picks for a NBA title anytime soon, but odds are that the rivalry will remain intense.

Glance at Cavaliers vs. Bulls Last 20 Games

Taking a look back at the last 20 games between the Cavaliers and Bulls will take us back to the Eastern Conference Playoffs during the 2015 season. While both teams look very different at this time, it can still help us make predictions for what might happen in the future. The Bulls have gotten the better of the Cavaliers since that time, winning 11 of the 20 games played between the two teams. The Cavaliers do have the most recent victory, a 104-101 win on January 27, 2019. The Bulls won six of the 11 games played in Chicago, while the Cavaliers won five games on the road. Chicago was also a better team on the road, posting a 5-4 record in games played in Cleveland.

Detailed Series Splits For Cavs-Bulls Rivalry

The betting odds for this rivalry have been very close in the past 20 games, and it’s easy to make a prediction that they will be that way going forward. The over/under for each games have changed slightly for each matchup, but the two teams have historically been right around the “total” number. The two teams have combined to go “under” 9 times in their last 20 games, while the “over” has hit 11 times. Chicago has been the “favorite” just six times in the last 20 games, and they have gone just 2-4 in these six games. While Cleveland has been the favorite 14 times, they haven’t always been the best pick. The Cavaliers covered the spread just 1 time in the last 20 games as the favorite, while the underdog Chicago Bulls were the correct pick a whopping 13 times. If the Bulls are ever the underdog in this matchup, history tells us to pick Chicago.