Chicago Bulls at Brooklyn Nets Preview
Thursday night’s contest will be between the 8 and 9 seeds in the Eastern Conference and is an important game for the playoff picture. While the Nets are 3 games ahead of Chicago, the Bulls are surprisingly in the playoff race with the bottom of the Eastern Conference being so thin. Chicago is coming off of a tough overtime loss to the Pacers on Tuesday which saw them blow a late 4th quarter lead. This loss ended Chicago’s two-game winning streak and dropped their record against under .500 teams to 1-19. The Nets, on the other hand, are coming off a win against the struggling Pistons but have been going through their roughest patch of the season as of late. Dating back to December 26th, the Nets have had separate losing streaks of 5 and 7 games over that stretch and are looking to flip the script. Brooklyn took the first game against Chicago back in mid-November 117-111.
Time: 6:30 PM CST
Arena: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
Channel: NBC Sports Chicago
Bulls: Wendell Carter (Out), Daniel Gafford (Out), Lauri Markkanen (Out), Otto Porter (Out)
Nets: Kevin Durant (Out)
Chicago Bulls Starting Lineup
The Bulls have been producing better results as of lot amongst vast injury issues. Chicago has been beating up on fellow sub-.500 teams but are still looking to get their second win against a team with more wins than losses. They won’t get that chance on Friday facing the 20-26 Nets, but it is a big game for the Eastern Conference standings. Chicago surprisingly has a chance to make a run at the 8th seed due to the lack of depth at the bottom of the conference, even though they aren’t really a playoff-caliber team at this point.
The Bulls played a solid game for the most part against the Pacers on Wednesday. With both teams struggling to shoot the ball from deep it turned into a paint-oriented game. Zach LaVine put up 20 points and 9 assists despite a tough shooting night that saw him miss 10 threes. He has struggled in terms of efficiency the past two games but has still put up good volume and made plays for his teammates more than usual.
Thaddeus Young has given the Bulls some better production recently. The veteran has started to put some games together scoring 16 points. Young has put-up double-digit points over his last 4 starts while shooting 54% from the field in Markkanen’s absence.
Chandler Hutchison had the best game of his young career on Wednesday night. He gave Chicago a career-high 21 points off the bench. Hutchison is starting to take advantage of the opportunities that have opened up with Chicago’s injuries. He has been attacking the rim and has been given minutes at the 4 with the Bulls’ thin frontcourt at the moment. Chicago will need Young, Hutchison, and other contributors to step up against Brooklyn especially if Zach LaVine’s shooting slump continues for a third game.
Brooklyn Nets Starting Lineup
January has not been a particular favorable month for the Nets. They have a record of 4-10 since the New Year began. The expectations this year were tempered with Durant most likely missing the whole season, but most expect more from this squad. Kyrie Irving has only played in 18 games so far this season which is an obvious reason to why the Nets have experienced struggles.
On Wednesday, Brooklyn picked up their second win in 3 games with a loss to the lowly Knicks in between. This three-game stretch shouldn’t inspire too much confidence, but the Nets are now at full strength (minus Durant of course). The Nets do have a great opportunity to turn it around with a favorable upcoming schedule. Including the game against Chicago, Brooklyn’s next 4 games are at least 7 games under .500 (Bulls, Wizards, Suns, and Warriors). Brooklyn does have an even 12-12 record at Barclays Center, so they should be able to use the homecourt advantage.
Brooklyn has been more effective in the last couple of games offensively. They had some effective shooting totals in their last contest. As a team the Nets shot 50/38/80 and were able to put up 125 points. It was against a subpar Pistons team, but the offensive outburst is still a good sign.
Spencer Dinwiddie and Taurean Prince had big games against the Pistons combining for 50 points. Dinwiddie has been vital to the team especially in Irving’s absence. Dinwiddie came off the bench last game but ended up playing the 2nd most minutes on the team behind only Kyrie Irving (33). It will be interesting to see how head coach Kenny Atkinson utilizes the two scoring guards with Irving finally healthy.
Key Player Matchups
Kornet/Felicio vs Jarrett Allen
This matchup is a little out of the ordinary, but I wanted to highlight the advantage that Brooklyn has at the 5. The 21-year-old Allen is having another good year improving his PPG, RPG, and FG% from last year so far. Both Kornet and Felicio are the only centers on the Bulls roster with the multitude of injuries in Chicago. They should have a tough time getting much going offensively against Allen as well as containing him in other areas.
I like Jarrett Allen in DFS as you could probably tell from my key matchup. Allen has a solid floor against the Bulls and has the potential to have a big output against a depleted Bulls frontcourt. If you are looking for some cheaper options, I think there is value with Thaddeus Young and Chandler Hutchison but there is also a good amount of risk that comes along with those plays.
Bet on Matchup
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