Currently on a seven-game losing streak, the Chicago Bulls (10-33) will try to avoid their longest one in over a year tonight against the Los Angeles Lakers (23-21). Things won’t be easy for the Bulls though, this is their fourth game in a five-game road trip.
The last time that Chicago suffered an eight-game losing streak was back between November 19-December 6, 2017 — they ended up suffering a 10-game losing streak when the smoke cleared.
For Los Angeles, things haven’t been the brightest either without LeBron James. On Sunday night against the dead-last in the Eastern Conference 9-35 Cleveland Cavaliers, the Lakers were dismal in a 101-95 loss. That ended Cleveland’s 12-game losing streak.
Needless to say, the struggle is real for LA right now, and that’s mainly due to the groin injury of LeBron James. Leading the team in scoring (27.3 PPG), rebounds (8.3 RPG) and assists (7.4), James has missed the past 10 games. He’ll also be out against the Bulls. The Lakers are 3-7 without LeBron.
Without James at the helm, Los Angeles has exposed themselves as a result as well, specifically from the free throw line. Coming into Sunday’s game against the Cavs, the Lakers were ranked last in free-throw shooting only hitting 68.6% of their shots. Against Cleveland, it was even worse at 59.3 FG% only hitting 16-for-27 of his shots.
Defense has also been an issue for Los Angeles, they’ve allowed at least 32 points in the first quarter in four of their last five games. This situation has even caused their head coach Luke Walton to consider making changes to the rotation.
Explaining the Bulls’ 10-33 record, they’re one of the youngest teams in the league. Their starting lineup only ranges from ages 19-24. Chicago is led by Zach LaVine (23.6 PPG), who returns to Los Angeles tonight — he played one season at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA).
With LeBron out and the Lakers being horrendous without him, it should be an entertaining game between LA and the young Bulls tonight on national television. (NBATV at 10:30 PM ET)
PLAYERS TO WATCH
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
CHECK THE NUMBERS
The Los Angeles Lakers come in with the statistical advantage tonight, but without LeBron James, it should balance out a bit for the Chicago Bulls. On offense, Chicago sits with a -11 disadvantage at 100.9 PPG — they do this on 44.5 FG% shooting. In the rebounding game, the Bulls are -6 at 41.3 RPG. On the defensive side of things, Chicago isn’t far off in this one — they only have a -1 disadvantage at 111.0 PPG. But like I said, these numbers should balance out with no LeBron James leading the Lakers.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
With LeBron James, the Los Angeles Lakers have been a little above average this season — closer to average than anything. Without LeBron James, the Lakers have been absolutely depressing to watch. That team just doesn’t work without LeBron. For the season, the Lakers currently sit at +11 with 111.4 PPG — the shooting hasn’t been bad at 47.0 FG%, a +3 advantage. On the boards, LA is +6 at 47.0 RPG. In ball protection, Los Angeles is +1 at 110.6 PA. But again, LeBron.
I expect the first quarter, maybe even the first half to be close in this game due to After the horrible 101-95 home loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, I really don’t have a lot of faith in them tonight against a 10-33 Chicago Bulls — despite being at home again. Though the Lakers do have a bit more starpower, but again, both are really bad right now.
The key to this game will be the battle in the paint between Bulls’ Lauri Markkanen and Lakers’ JaVale McGee, mainly on the rebounding end. When it comes between the two big-men, I have a little bit more trust in McGee than I do Markkanen, mainly due to the physicality of McGee and the age of Markkanen. That’s another edge for the Lakers.
Before I make this pick, I just want you to know that I don’t have much confidence in it. The Lakers got dropped at home by both the New York Knicks and the Cleveland Cavaliers — two of the NBA’s worst teams. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, again, and ride with the Lakers at home against the 10-33 Bulls in an overall bad game — they’re home, and have the edge in the paint. That’s about all I have on this one — tough pick to make.