Chicago Bulls vs Los Angeles Lakers NBA Pick – January 15th

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)

INJURY REPORT

CHICAGO BULLS

  • NONE

LOS ANGELES LAKERS

  • LEBRON JAMES: Groin (Out — No Timetable For Return)
  • RAJON RONDO: Hand (Out — Two-to-Three Weeks)

PLAYERS TO WATCH

CHICAGO BULLS

ZACH LAVINE
Leading the team in scoring and assists, the 23-year-old is easily the best player on the young Chicago Bulls. Styling a flashy 18.09 PER, LaVine has been great this season tallying a scoring mark of 23.6 PPG — his shooting has also been solid at 45.7 FG%. And that’s not all of how LaVine has been impacting the scoreboard. He’s also been helping his teammates light it up averaging 4.1 APG. And even though at the point, LaVine has been effective on the glass as well — he averages 4.3 RPG. Expect double-teams from Los Angeles.
LAURI MARKKANEN
The 21-year-old 7-footer has been impressive this season in just his second year in the league. Averaging a 14.75 PER, Markkanen has made his main impact in scoring and on the glass. In the scoring department, he’s put up 16.5 PPG, though his shooting of 43.1 FG% needs to be higher — especially as a big-man. He’s been nice at grabbing boards though, he averages out at 7.1 RPG. Markkanen hasn’t been bad on the defensive side either, he averages 0.8 BLKPG. The Lakers will have to contain Markkanen in the paint for success.

LOS ANGELES LAKERS

KYLE KUZMA
Though not the most elite, Kyle Kuzma has been a nice piece for LeBron James and his Los Angeles Lakers this season. Currently with a 14.98 PER, Kuzma has been putting up points on the scoreboard tallying 18.8 PPG. The shooting hasn’t been bad either, he sits with a 46.4 field goal percentage. Another place where Kuzma has been leaving his mark as well has been on the rebounding end — he’s been pulling down 5.8 RPG. With LeBron out, Chicago can focus most of their time on Kuzma — it must be Christmas again for the Bulls.
JAVALE MCGEE
The battle in the paint between JaVale McGee and Lauri Markkanen will be an interesting one, especially on the boards — we have two 7-footers going at it. McGee has been a contributor for the Lakers this season with a 20.18 PER. In the scoring department, he’s averaging double figures at 11.1 PPG. The biggest category for tonight, rebounding, he’s compiled 6.9 RPG for the year. McGee has been fantastic on defense this season, and that’s what could notch some of Lauri Markkanen’s offensive numbers down — he at 2.3 BLKPG.

CHECK THE NUMBERS

CHICAGO BULLS

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.

POWELL’S PREDICTION

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.

PREDICTION: Los Angeles Lakers 100, Chicago Bulls 99

My Pick
CHICAGO BULLS +7
Andrew Powell / Author

Andrew Powell has been working with The Sports Geek since November 2018 providing analysis and predictions in both the realms of sports and politics. Studying journalism through the University of Michigan, Powell's experience in sports includes tenures at mainstream newspapers The Williamsport Sun-Gazette and The Lock Haven Express, and he would also be affiliated with FOX Sports Radio 1340 AM in Hopewell, Virginia. In politics, it would include a stint with Mad World News and multiple with the Republican Party. From the Super Bowl to The Kentucky Derby to President Donald Trump's hair, Powell has you covered at The Sports Geek.