Thursday’s matchup in Chicago features two young teams looking to end their losing streaks. New Orleans is coming trying to snap their 2-game skid while Chicago has lost 3 in a row. The Pelicans were on a 3-game winning streak prior to dropping back-to-back games against two tough teams in the Rockets and Bucks. Chicago has had a similar road as of late. They won back-to-back games before their losing streak which featured tough losses against 3 Eastern Conference playoff teams (Pacers, Nets, and Raptors). The Pelicans are finally virtually back to full health, in terms of major contributors, while the Bulls continue to suffer from a litany of injuries.
Time: 7 PM CST
Arena: United Center, Chicago, IL
Channel: NBC Sports Chicago, Fox Sports New Orleans
Pelicans: Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Questionable), Darius Miller (Out), Kenrich Williams (Out)
Bulls: Wendell Carter (Out), Kris Dunn (Out), Otto Porter (Out), Lauri Markkanen (Out), Otto Porter (Out)
New Orleans Pelicans Starting Lineup
The Pelicans played a competitive first half on Tuesday against Milwaukee. New Orleans kept it close in the first half but ultimately the Bucks ran away with it after a 42-24 3rd quarter. There were some good performances by some but it was an overall inefficient performance as a whole. The Pelicans shot 38% from the field and a woeful 28% from deep. The Pelicans have shot 37% per game, which is good enough for 4th in the NBA, but they couldn’t get going on Tuesday night.
Zion Williamson, who made his debut just 7 games ago, was marked as questionable following the game against Milwaukee due to a toe sprain but he was upgraded on Wednesday. Zion didn’t have his best showing last game but still was able to fill up the stat sheet. It was his first time this year shooting under 54% from the field (5-19 from the field) but he still managed to get to the line going 10-14 from the charity stripe. Williamson also added 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and a steal. Brandon Ingram was really the only efficient contributor on the Pelicans and tried to will them passed Milwaukee. Ingram poured in 32 points on 12-19 from the field.
New Orleans will look to get back on track against the Bulls and will need to establish their 3-point shot to do so. They should also have the opportunity to make an impact on the boards. The Pelicans are a top 5 rebounding team in the league while the Bulls are 2nd to last and on top of that have an undermanned frontcourt due to injuries.
Chicago Bulls Starting Lineup
The Bulls suffered another blow to their depth courtesy of the injury bug. Kris Dunn went down in the first minute of their game against the Nets. This led to Chandler Hutchison against the Raptors and increased minutes for Ryan Arcidiacono. The Dunn injury may open up opportunities for Denzel Valentine (if he isn’t moved prior to the trade deadline) and Shaq Harrison. The Bulls got Daniel Gafford back from injury last game but he only played 9 minutes. Boylen should insert Gafford into a bigger role, if he is 100%, being that he is the Bulls best healthy big.
Chicago played a competitive 1st half against Toronto actually leading by 3 at the break. The Bulls were dominated 35-22 in the 3rd quarter, which has become a habit of this team. They couldn’t come back from the loss of momentum and got rolled in the 4th quarter as well. The Bulls have constantly lost games due to lackluster 3rd quarters and it is something they need to address. It could be Jim Boylen’s lack of halftime adjustments or players getting complacent at half but they have lost numerous games after digging themselves into a hole with poor 4th quarters.
Thaddeus Young and Chandler Hutchison performed well against the Raptors in a game where Zach LaVine failed to score 20+ points for the first time in 17 games. Young scored 21 to go along with 7 rebounds and has a settling presence for the Bulls amongst the frontcourt injuries. Hutchison has is looking to take a step forward after scoring 17 in his start since returning from injury. He is averaging 12 points over his last 5 games and should get more opportunities now that he has entered the starting lineup due to the Dunn injury.
Key Player Matchup
Zion Williamson vs Thaddeus Young
This matchup between power forwards should be interesting on both sides and I expect both to guard one another on the defensive side of the ball. Zion has the clear advantage due to his athleticism but the veteran Young is crafty and has been looking like his old self as of late. Young has scored in double figures his past 6 games (6 of his 7 starts this year). It is a good test for Zion but I expect him to get the better of the battle.
There are some good options to fit into your lineup. Zion at $7,500 is good value in a matchup he should be able to fill up the stat sheet in. Josh Hart ($4,700), Chandler Hutchison ($4,500), and Coby White ($4,200) should all get the opportunity to provide good value with their price points.
Bet on Matchup
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