Chicago Bulls at Orlando Magic Preview
After a long all-star break, the Chicago Bulls (14-44) will travel to Orlando tonight to face the Magic (27-32), as both teams look to shake off some rust in their first game in over a week. Both teams should be well rested, as only one player from each squad competed in Charlotte last weekend.
For the Bulls, second-year center Lauri Markkanen impressed in the Rising Stars game on Friday night. Playing on the World team, the Finnish sophomore dropped 21 points, but it wasn’t enough, as his team fell 144-161 to the US squad.
For the Magic, first time all-star Nikola Vucevic didn’t have the most spectacular weekend, but he put in a solid showing on both Saturday and Sunday night. Competing in the skills challenge first, Vucevic was competitive, but fell to fellow big man Nikola Jokic in his first-round matchup. In the all-star game on Sunday, Vucevic only played 12 minutes, and the workman was often overshadowed by a collection of flashier stars.
However, the events on all-star weekend are very different from the typical NBA games, and the players will have to adjust after playing casually over the weekend.
Time: 7:00pm ET
Arena: Amway Center, Orlando, FL
Channel: WGN, FSFL
Chicago Bulls Starting Lineup
|C||Wendell Carter Jr.|
The Chicago Bulls are currently sitting at 14-44, but because of the Cavaliers, Knicks, and Suns, they currently only have the NBA’s fourth worst record. This is important because the teams that finish with the three worst records all have the same odds to receive the number one pick in the NBA draft, while the fourth worst team has slightly worse odds. Although explicit tanking is not allowed by the league, it will be interesting to see how these teams perform down the stretch in hopes of maybe winning the Zion Williamson lottery.
On February 6th, the Bulls decided to trade Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis in exchange for Otto Porter Jr. Recently, Portis has said that he felt blindsided by the organization, being traded after a solid season that included a 33 point outing the game before he was dealt away. However, the Bulls received a potential building block for the future in sixth-year forward Otto Porter Jr.
Porter has only played four games with his new club, but he seems to have already found his stride in the Bulls’ system. In their most recent game against the Grizzlies, Porter was an efficient 16-20 form the field, recording an impressive double-double of 37 points and 10 rebounds along the way.
He will continue to learn how to work with fellow building blocks Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine as they prepare for future seasons. The 21 year old Markkanen has looked like a potential franchise player during his first two seasons in the league, and the seven footer is averaging an impressive 18 points per game this season. The athletic LaVine has also had a breakout season, averaging a career high 23 points per game in his fifth season. While the current may not be so bright, the future looks promising for this young Bulls team.
Orlando Magic Starting Lineup
The Magic are in an unfamiliar position at the end of February: they’re still in playoff contention. Although they only sit at a subpar 27-32, they find themselves in the thick of the playoff battle among a collection of middling Eastern Conference teams. After the Heat lost last night, the Magic currently sit in eighth place in a crowded Eastern Conference, a half game behind the eighth place Pistons, and only a game behind the seventh seeded Hornets. Games like this, a home game against the struggling Bulls have become must wins for the Magic if they want to remain competitive and reach the playoffs for the first time since 2012.
On January 30th, the Magic sat at 20-31, losers of seven of their previous eight games, and the playoffs looked like they had slipped away after a promising start to the season. However, since then, the Magic reversed the trend, winning seven of their next eight games to propel themselves up the standings. While all-star Nikola Vucevic has continued to play well during the recent winning streak, the Magic have received big contributions from unexpected sources.
Before the trade deadline, there were rumblings that the Magic might trade veteran marksman Terrance Ross for guard Markelle Fultz, but the Magic eventually decided against it, trading Jonathan Simmons for Fultz instead. Since then, Ross has proved that the Magic made the right decision, putting up impressive stats in limited minutes off the bench. For example, in the team’s most recent win against the Hornets, Ross shot efficiently, scoring 21 points in just 22 minutes.
In addition, second-year forward Jonathan Isaac has had a breakout stretch. Playing in the starting lineup, Isaac’s previous career high points was 18 points at the start of February. In his last four games, Isaac is averaging 17.5 points per game, including a career high 20 point performance against New Orleans. Ross and Isaac need to continue their recent hot streaks to help the Magic continue their run to the playoffs.
Chicago Bulls at Orlando Magic Betting Odds
The line for tonight’s game in Orlando opened with the Magic as 8.5 point favorites. In their last 10 games ATS, the Magic are an impressive 8-2, and they sport a solid 32-26 record ATS this season. On the other hand, the Bulls are a lackluster 25-32 ATS this season, but have fared better on the road, going 14-13 ATS away from Chicago. The over-under for the game currently sits at 217.5 points.
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