I don’t feel good about this one.
New Orleans Pelicans at Chicago Bulls (8:00 CT) on NBC Sports Chicago, 670 The Score (Audio)
1. Coby White
2. Zach LaVine
3. Garrett Temple
4. Patrick Williams
5. Daniel Gafford
Injury Report: Lauri Markkanen OUT (shoulder), Otto Porter OUT (back), Wendell Carter Jr. OUT (quad), Hutchison OUT (personal reasons)
New Orleans Pelicans
1. Lonzo Ball
2. Eric Bledsoe
3. Brandon Ingram
4. Zion Williamson
5. Steven Adams
Injury Report: N/A
The Bulls are -2.5 point underdogs for tonight’s matchup against the Knicks, according to the DraftKings Illinois Sportsbook (-109) and the FanDuel Illinois Sportsbook (-110), and the PointsBet Illinois Sportsbook (-110).
You can sign up for each of those books below, and get yourself a nice deposit bonus in the process.
What to Watch For
• With Zion Williamson and Steven Adams in the Pelicans frontcourt, the Bulls need their big men to step up. More specifically, it’s vital that Daniel Gafford finds a way to stay on the floor. While I’m sure these two can find a way to give this team fits regardless, Gafford’s six-foot-ten frame and fiery energy will be desperately needed throughout the game. He has only managed to clock roughly 14.5 minutes per content over the team’s last four games for a variety of reasons, and I just don’t see a way this Bulls team wins if that’s the case tonight.
• Can the Bulls avoid foul trouble? Unfortunately … I think the answer is no. The Bulls foul the 9th-most in the NBA, which must be a tasty recipe for the Pelicans, who draw the 7th-most whistles per game. The only thing worse than this team getting everything they want on the rim is if they also get everything they want at the line. Keep this team away from the charity stripe, and the Bulls chance of winning will go up … well … slightly.
• Rebounding is going to be a problem. The Pelicans haul in the 2nd-most offensive rebounds per game, and while the Bulls shockingly allow the 7th-fewest OREBs per game, this should still be a huge point of emphasis from Billy Donovan and the coaching staff. With the matchup already as brutal as it is, the Bulls just can’t afford to allow extra possessions.
• The Pelicans defense isn’t anything too sexy, so if the Bulls can channel the kind of efficient shooting we saw from them earlier this season, they could give themselves a chance. Over the last three games, they have shot a dismal 31.3 percent from long range, which certainly doesn’t compare well to the 38.9 percent they held on the season up until that point. Even in the absence of Lauri Markkanen and Otto Porter, we know they can shoot better.
• Relatedly, Coby White has to step up. The second-year guard has failed to score 20+ points in the five-straight games, and he has also averaged just 3 assists over his last three games. Hopefully, with a big-time scorer like Markkanen on the injury report, the team can encourage White to focus less on being a ball distributor and more on what he does best (*ahem* scoring). I liked what Donovan did last game where he gave White the quick hook in the first quarter and eventually put him back in alongside Tomas Satoransky. I’m not giving up fully on the White point guard experiment, but I do think he would do the Bulls more good off the ball right now. If anything, it could be a great way to get him back on track.
• Scout (future-Bull?) Lonzo Ball.
Get Caught Up …
LIVE: Head Coach Billy Donovan media availability prior to tonight’s game against the Pelicans https://t.co/Q7gZ2ffk78
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) February 11, 2021
Markkanen Hoping for a Quick Return, Tonight’s Bad Matchup, the G-League Bubble, and Other Bulls Bulletshttps://t.co/knMIbBpNdy
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) February 10, 2021