The Portland Trail Blazers are in Chicago at the United Center on Saturday night for a clash against the Bulls. The Trail Blazers are coming off a 104-101 loss against the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center on Thursday night. It was their second straight loss and third loss in their last four outings. The injury bug is hitting the Trail Blazers and their results recently have added up.
Damian Lillard did his best to carry the load, but his 30 points wasn’t enough to prevent the Rockets from earning a three-point win. Kudos to Gary Trent Jr. for trying his best to give Lillard a running mate with CJ McCollum absent, though. Trent Jr. scored 23 points as the second-leading scorer on the Blazers.
It would be nice for the Blazers if Carmelo Anthony caught fire and reverted to vintage Melo. However, as a 36-year-old that is nearing the end of his career, it’s too much to ask for him to come close to replacing McCollum’s production. McCollum is scheduled to be out until late February with a foot injury.
The Blazers are suffering in the paint as well with the Bosnian Beast out of commission. Nurkic can’t seem to catch a break. If it isn’t one thing it’s the other. This time Nukic is dealing with a wrist injury that will keep up out of the lineup until at least early March. That’s another month of basketball without Nurkic around the rim.
If Charles Barkley really did bet on the Trail Blazers to win the Western Conference, then he could be in some trouble if injuries linger to McCollum and Nurkic. The Blazers go into Saturday with a record of 9-8, and looking to build some chemistry in Chicago against the Bulls. There has been a serious lack of chemistry without Nurkic and McCollum in the lineup.
The Bulls are looking to end a two-game skid on Saturday night as well. They are coming off losses against the Lakers, 101-90, and Celtics, 119-103. The Bulls have been off since Monday, so they’ve had a nice bye week of sorts. It was the perfect time for a break after slipping up against Boston. Head below for our free Trail Blazers vs. Bulls pick on January 30, 2021.
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Chicago Bulls NBA Betting Odds:
Trail Blazers vs. Bulls Prediction:
The Trail Blazers are not the same without Nurkic and McCollum in the lineup. McCollum gets overlooked in favor of Damian Lillard, but he is a vital point of the offense. Without his services in the lineup, the Blazers lose 26.7 points per game of production. McCollum is shooting 47.3% from the field. And with Nurkic, the Blazers don’t have a big man that was scoring 9.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.
Overall, they are sixth in the NBA with 114.5 points scored per game. However, subtract Nurkic and McCollum from the equation and they are a very ordinary offense. The Blazers also have to still deal with a defense that needs work. Note that Portland has conceded an average of 115.5 points a game for 25th in the league.
Nurkic’s absence in the paint hurts matters much worse for the defense. He was their linchpin and anchor defensively, but are going about the season without him at the moment. I will admit, though, Nurkic didn’t look like himself early in the year. He was beginning to shake off the rust when he injured his wrist and had to sit down.
The Bulls have one of the more underrated offenses in the NBA led by Zach LaVine. LaVine has scored an average of 27 points and 5.2 rebounds, and 5.3 assists through 17 games in 2020-21. He is shooting 50.2% from the field. LaVine has been the catalyst for the Bulls’ offense, which has poured it on for 115.3 points a game for fourth in the league. The Bulls are in the top-10 in all key offensive metrics, including from three, free throws, and field goal percentage.
They were winners over the Blazers in their first meeting this season. Seven players scored in the double digits for the Bulls, as their depth beat the Blazers’ depth in that outing. That was with a healthy Nurkic and McCollum on the floor for the Blazers. Expect the Bulls to have the upper hand tonight at the United Center. As a small favorite, I’d back the Bulls over the injured Blazers.