Being a big-market team in the NBA doesn’t guarantee success. The 30-36 Los Angeles Lakers and 19-49 Chicago Bulls are proof of that assertion. Today they’ll square off in Chicago (8 p.m. ET Tuesday).
Los Angeles recently pulled the plug on its season, announcing that it would reduce LeBron James’ minutes and not play him on back-to-backs. Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball are likely out for the year with injuries. Young, unheralded players are getting more minutes and it’s showing in the win column. The Lakers have lost 11 of their last 14 games.
The Bulls are still among the league’s weakest teams. However, they have won six of their last 11 games. A knee injury to Zach LaVine will hurt the squad for this game, though.
These two lottery squads may not play the prettiest game today, but there are some interesting storylines to monitor. Also, there are some very good bets available to you for this game. Let’s preview both of those things ahead of this Tuesday game before deciding our Los Angeles Lakers vs Chicago Bulls predictions.
Will Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Reggie Bullock Break Out of Their Slumps?
The Lakers are among the worst spot-up shooting teams in the league. That’s a problem, since superstar LeBron James thrives off having players around him who can shoot. He uses the spacing to drive and then dishes the ball to them for open shots when defenders collapse on him.
Two of the Lakers’ most important spot-up shooters, Reggie Bullock and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, have been ice-cold from behind the three-point arc in the Lakers’ five-game losing streak. Bullock and Caldwell-Pope are a combined 5-of-33 (15.2 percent) from three in that stretch. That will have to change if the Lakers are to get a win here.
Also, defensively, Chicago rotates poorly and can be easily victimized by long-distance shooting. In the Bulls’ last eight games (a 3-5 stretch for them), opponents have shot 35.1 percent in Chicago’s wins and 43.3 percent in the Bulls’ losses.
Will the Bulls Assert an Advantage on the Glass?
The Bulls really need to use their size in this game to dominate possession against the Lakers. Chicago has not been a good rebounding team this season, but it has improved as of late with big bodies like Robin Lopez and Cristiano Felicio playing more and Lauri Markkanen stepping up in that area.
The Lakers have been dreadful at managing the glass recently. It has been eight games in a row now where Los Angeles has failed to outrebound its opponent. Injuries are a big part of this, but the Lakers are also just a soft team on the interior. The team is built to run the fast break, but a key part of doing that is securing defensive rebounds.
If the Bulls dominate the Lakers on the boards, it’s hard to see Los Angeles having much of a chance.
Can Johnathan Williams’ Energy Give the Lakers a Boost?
The Lakers have a weak group of big men but two-way contract holder Williams has had some really nice moments for Los Angeles in his nine games with the team. Now that the team is essentially out of playoff contention, it looks like the unheralded big man will be playing significant minutes with the Lakers’ main squad.
The 23-year-old Williams is not highly skilled, but he’s very athletic at 6’9” and 228 pounds and he knows his limitations. He plays with a lot of energy and also sets good screens. In his last game against the Boston Celtics, he had 18 points and 10 rebounds in 29 minutes.
Chicago’s key big men, especially Robin Lopez and Cristiano Felicio, are not known for their mobility and athleticism. Williams has an opportunity to make his presence felt for a second straight game.
Our Betting Preview’s Los Angeles Lakers vs Chicago Bulls Predictions & Picks
As the Lakers have adjusted to a new normal as a clear lottery team, they have had a lot of injuries and players in and out of the lineup.
Also, while the Lakers have LeBron James as the best player in this matchup, he hasn’t tried at all on defense in recent weeks. The Bulls might have the next three or four best players after James, especially if the Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma is out.
Overall, I like the Bulls to win this game. However, with a lot of the talent in this game injured or lacking chemistry, I don’t see it being a very high-scoring contest.
- The line at the major trustworthy USA sportsbooks favors the Lakers by one point. I recommend putting money on the Bulls +1pt @ best odds of -105 with BetOnline or Bookmaker.
- These are two struggling defenses right now, but with the missing players, I don’t expect much out of either offense. You might be wise to takethe under 226.5 total points @ -110, again with either Bookmaker or BetOnline.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.