Two of the NBA’s most illustrious franchises play each other tonight. The 3-11 Chicago Bulls visit the 7-10 Los Angeles Lakers in a matchup of two rebuilding squads (10:30 p.m. ET Tuesday on TNT).
Los Angeles is further along in its rebuild than Chicago, which just traded away All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler during the offseason. The Lakers have now missed the postseason four years in a row, but they have gradually accumulated young talent and are definitely on the upswing.
The Bulls are definitely a team that could use a high draft pick next summer. They don’t have an obvious young core to build around yet. As such, Chicago is a clear tanking candidate for this season, as we could see the squad play its young players and other journeymen more and more as the season wears on.
Will the favored Lakers inch closer to .500 in Tinseltown today? Or will Chicago lose ground in the worst-record sweepstakes by winning? Read below for this preview’s key storylines for the game, as well as betting predictions and picks.
Will the Lakers Three-Point Shooters Heat Up?
Los Angeles has not been a good outside-shooting team this season. In fact the Lakers are dead last in both made threes per game (7.3) and three-point percentage (29.4).
There’s a pretty dramatic difference between the Lakers’ shooting in wins versus their shooting in losses, though. Los Angeles hits 10.7 trifectas at a 38.5 percent clip in wins, compared to an anaemic 4.9 long bombs on 21.6 percent shooting in defeats.
Chicago’s defense is among the worst in the league and it allows all sorts of good looks from three-point range. The Lakers need to get the right players in-rhythm, open shots from outside, because their ability to avoid an upset here depends on it.
Can Kris Dunn Do His Part for the Bulls By Dominating Lonzo Ball?
Ball has been one of the most closely-watched rookies in recent memory because of all the hoopla surrounding his family. He just had his second career triple-double on Sunday, tallying 11 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists.
In all, though, it has been a pretty poor start to his career. He is putting up 8.9 points per game on a shooting slash of 31.3/22.8/46.2, numbers that would make even the worst offensive players in the league blush. He is also turning the ball over 2.6 turnovers per contest.
The 20-year-old Ball could very well be a great NBA player someday. He is just not good right now, and Dunn needs to take advantage.
Dunn is in just his second season and has had his own troubles adjusting to the NBA, but he’s settling into a rhythm for the Bulls. In a big-minute role as a point guard off the bench, he has averaged 13.8 points, 5 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.5 steals in 28 minutes per contest over his past six games.
Can the Lakers’ Bigs Avoid Foul Trouble?
On paper, this game looks like it should definitely swing the Lakers’ way. Foul trouble is always a great equalizer in games where one team is clearly better than the other, though.
Chicago has a relative strength in the frontcourt. Lauri Markkanen and Robin Lopez form a respectable 4-5 combo, and Bobby Portis provides high-energy aggressiveness off the bench. Los Angeles has better big men overall, including Robin’s brother, Brook, but they do have a tendency to struggle with fouls.
Julius Randle and Andrew Bogut both average close to six fouls per 36 minutes, while Brook Lopez is at 4.4. Those are high numbers.
While Chicago isn’t known to draw many fouls, the Bulls are still an NBA team that will play aggressively if their opponent doesn’t bring enough energy. The Lakers’ big men need to be disciplined so they can stay on the floor.
Our Preview’s Chicago Bulls vs. Los Angeles Lakers Picks & Betting Predictions
Chicago is blatantly tanking this season and the Lakers are definitely looking to get closer to the playoff hunt with its young core. Especially at home, Los Angeles will be motivated to show how well it is progressing on its rebuild.
- With nearly all major betting outlets, the Lakers are just a 5.5-point favorite. This seems like not enough respect for the Lakers, who have been considerably more competitive than Chicago this season. Bet on the Lakers -5.5pts @ -110 with either 5Dimes, Bookmaker, MyBookie or BetOnline.
- While Los Angeles is known as an offensive-minded team, the squad’s defense has shone through this season. Chicago’s miserable offense will result in a very low score for the Bulls. Wager on the under 210.5pts @ -110 with Bookmaker or BetOnline.