Los Angeles Lakers at Chicago Bulls Preview
The Chicago Bulls welcome the hottest team in the league, the Los Angeles Lakers, into the United Center tonight for an interconference matchup. The Bulls and Lakers are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to where they are in their respective conferences. The Lakers are looking like the real deal after winning five straight since dropping their opening night game against the Clippers.
The Lakers are 5-1, leading the Western Conference while the Chicago Bulls, at 2-5, have just one more win keeping them from being dead last in the Eastern Conference. For Lakers big man Anthony Davis, it’ll be a homecoming as he was born and played prep basketball in Chicago
Time: 8 PM ET
Arena: United Center, Chicago, IL
Channel: NBA TV
Lakers: DeMarcus Cousins, Talen Horton-Tucker, Rajon Rondo (O)
Bulls: Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter Jr. (GTD)
Los Angeles Lakers Starting Lineup
The Los Angeles Lakers were already looking like one of the top contenders in the NBA. But the rich got richer after getting forward Kyle Kuzma back from injury on Sunday night.
Lakers backup center Dwight Howard, who is enjoying a bit of a throwback year in his second stint with the Lakers indicated recently that he and his teammates are very confident even early on in the season.
“We believe that the only one that can beat us is ourselves,” Howard told The Athletic. “No offense to any player or any team or anything but for us to be a championship team when we step on the court, we got to believe that the guys in this locker room and the coaching staff can get the job done every night.”
The Lakers had a bit of a test of that resolve against the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday night. They had an early lead after keeping the Spurs to just 18 second-quarter points, but they almost let it slip away as Spurs guard Dejounte Murray led a comeback attack that fell short in the Lakers’ 103-96 win.
LeBron James had a triple-double with 21 points, 13 assists, and 11 rebounds, and Anthony Davis had 25 and 11 in the win. In just 21 minutes, Howard finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Chicago Bulls Starting Lineup
The Chicago Bulls are 2-5 and lost their last game 108-95 against the Indiana Pacers. The Bulls have been able to get scoring with Zach Lavine, Lauri Markkanen and several other role players, but the defense has been lacking, which was obvious against Indiana where TJ Warren, who isn’t exactly known for his offense, went off for 26 points.
“Why does it look this this? I don’t know, man,” LaVine said. “If I knew the answer to that, I don’t think we’d be playing this way. It’s just as frustrating on the inside as it is on the outside. Obviously, we want to win. We’re the ones playing. It hurts us a lot to be playing like this and losing games we’re supposed to win.
True to LaVine’s word, most of the Bulls’ losses have been within striking distance aside from their loss to the Toronto Raptors.
The Bulls have made several key changes over the offseason through free agency and the draft, adding veterans Tomas Satoransky and Thaddeus Young, and drafting Coby White. White looked hot in the early going, but he’s cooled off a bit since then.
Key Player Matchups
LeBron James vs. Otto Porter Jr.
James has somehow found a way to do exactly what his team has needed from him early on this season. Introducing so many new pieces, James has made the transition smooth, knowing when to take over and knowing when to step back and facilitate the offense. He’s been dominant when he’s needed to be. Porter is a capable defender, but offensively he has been very inconsistent. He had a nice two-game stretch last week but followed it by knocking down just 10 percent of his shots against the Pacers.
Anthony Davis vs. Lauri Markkanen
Davis has been nothing short of dominant, averaging nearly 30 points per game to go with 11.5 rebounds. Last week he had a 40-20 night and he’ll be a tough guard for Markkanen. Lauri has had a bit of a slower start this season. He has averages of 16 points and 8.6 rebounds, but he’s struggling from long range, where he holds likely his only advantage over Davis.
Danny Green vs. Zach LaVine
Green has been a nice piece for the Lakers, transitioning well into his new team and taking on a leadership role. He seems to always be ready to knock down a clutch three from the corner, and he’ll usually defend one of the opposing team’s top two players. He’ll be all over the floor chasing athletic guard Zach LaVine, who has been the one player that has shown some consistency on Chicago’s roster.
Anthony Davis has been my stud pick for just about every Lakers game I’ve previewed thus far, but coming off a triple-double, it’s hard to go wrong with James, who is valued at $9.6k on FanDuel with a projection of 53.86 points. For the Bulls, look to Zach LaVine, who is not quite the fantasy impact player as James, but is probably the best on his team, He is available for $7.3k and is expected to produce 34.96 points.
If you’re going to take a risk, your value players are where you want to do that, so I’m going to suggest Dwight Howard, whose $5.1k salary is expected to net his fantasy owners 23.91 points. If you’re looking to build up your defensive numbers, Howard can do that, and he’s been able to provide some scoring as well. Lauri Markannen is available for $6.3k and has a projection of 31.71 points.
Bet on Matchup
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