Chicago Bulls at New Orleans Pelicans Preview
Tonight’s game between the Chicago Bulls and New Orleans Pelicans is one that features two rebuilding teams looking for wins following losses on Monday Night. The Bulls are looking to halt a 4-game losing streak. It is worth noting that all four of those losses came against teams that are almost certainly playoff-bound (Mavericks, Celtics, Jazz, and Bucks) and the Bulls held their own for a majority of those games. Chicago despite being just 13-24 they are still only 4 games out of the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Pelicans are coming off a razor-thin 2-point loss to the Jazz but have actually improved basketball as of late. New Orleans stopped a 13-game losing streak against Minnesota and has gone 6-4 over their last 10 games. During their last 10 games, the Pelicans even put together an impressive four-game win streak with wins against competitors such as the Trail Blazers, Nuggets, Pacers, and Rockets.
Time: 7 PM CST
Arena: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA
Channel: NBCSH, Fox Sports New Orleans
Bulls: Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter Jr (O), Lauri Markkanen, Daniel Gafford (P)
Pelicans: Jrue Holiday, Zion Williamson, Darius Miller (O)
Chicago Bulls Starting Lineup
The Bulls are coming off a loss to the Dallas Mavericks in which they entered banged up and left even more short-handed. Coming into the game the Bulls weren’t sure if Lauri Markkanen would be able to play after spraining his ankle Monday against the Celtics. Markkanen was said to have trouble walking Monday and was even seen in a walking boot. That didn’t stop the third-year man from suiting up and leading the Bulls with 26 points in the 118-110 loss to Dallas. Zach Lavine has also been playing through a shoulder and ankle injury as well as Otto Porter being sidelined for the majority of the year.
On top of the injuries going into the Mavericks game, the Bulls will be without their Sophomore center and defensive anchor Wendell Carter Jr. due to a sprained ankle. Carter was unable to walk off the court under his own power. Daniel Gafford is his most likely replacement despite Gafford also seemingly getting banged up against the Mavericks. Gafford looked to have injured his leg on a bizarre play where Bulls Head Coach Jim Boylen refused to call a timeout even though his rookie center was clearly hurt. Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle had his player foul in order to stop play so Gafford could be subbed out. This was a prime example of Boylen’s unsuccessful first full year as a head coach and it will be interesting to see how long Boylen’s tenure will continue for.
The Bulls will get a chance to snap their losing streak against an equally subpar and injured Pelicans team. They will need production from their top scorers LaVine and Markkanen to do so especially with Carter out, though Gafford has shown the potential to break out in a full-time role. Markkanen who struggled to begin the year has started to turn it up as of late averaging 20.4 points on 49% from the field and 42% from deep. LaVine is making a case for his first All-Star appearance leading the Bulls with 23.6 points.
New Orleans Pelicans Starting Lineup
The Pelicans have also been bitten by the injury bug. They are obviously without the number 1 overall pick in last years draft, Zion Williamson, but will also be without their veteran leader Jrue Holiday for the second straight game. Despite sitting at the near bottom, the Western Conference with a 12-25 record, the Pelicans have been playing improved basketball winning six of their last nine games.
Leading the Pelicans is potential most improved player Brandon Ingram. Ingram is continuing his breakout from last year while leading NOLA in scoring putting up 25.2 points a game and doing so efficiently on 48% from the field and 40% from three. Ingram is also chipping in nearly 7 rebounds and 4 assists. The other main pieces acquired in the Anthony Davis trade, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart, have also had productive seasons so far.
The Pelicans came very close to possible upsetting the Jazz on Monday night, but Brandon Ingram couldn’t get his layup to fall in the final seconds leading to a 2-point loss at home. Ingram led the way for the Pelicans scoring 35. Redick and Ball helped make up for Holiday’s absence by adding 23 and 21 respectively. New Orleans will look to Ball, Redick, and Josh Hart to fill in for Jrue Holiday’s scoring, but it will be nearly impossible to make up for the defensive impact he brings to the table. Lonzo Ball and E’Twaun Moore seemed to gain the most playing time in Holiday’s absence. Big performances on both ends of the floor from Ball and Moore will be a key to NOLA’s success against the Bulls.
Key Player Matchups
Lauri Markkanen vs Brandon Ingram
The Pelicans have been playing a small lineup with Ingram at the 4 which will lead to a matchup between him and Markkanen. This matchup will pit the Pelicans top scorer against the Bulls’ second most lethal offensive threat. It will be interesting to see how each team will attack this matchup. Markkanen should have the advantage in the post but hasn’t gotten many looks in that area and has been heating up from three. Ingram should be able to use his speed against Markkanen especially in transition. It should be an extremely entertaining matchup to watch.
There are plenty of volume scorers in this game that could lead to DFS production, most notably Ingram and LaVine, but there are also a few big value options due to the injury bug. I would plug Daniel Gafford as well as Ball and/or E’Twaun Moore based on their increased opportunity.
Bet on Matchup
This is not a matchup that I would necessarily bet on due to the inconsistency of both teams. Odds Shark currently has the Pelicans favored at -5. I would take the Bulls at +5 due to the fact that I don’t see the Pelicans putting on a performance that would warrant that line. I would most likely take whoever is getting points in this matchup.
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