New York plays host to a banged up Bulls team who come in as 2.5 point underdogs
A pair of Eastern Conference bottom-feeders will face off tonight at Madison Square Garden as the Bulls come to town to face off against the Knicks for the third time this year. Both teams are playing some of their worst basketball of the season right now. New York finds themselves in the middle of a six-game losing streak, while the Bulls have only managed to find victory once in their last ten outings. More interestingly, the Knicks and Bulls post identical records in one regard, New York is 8-20 at home while the Bulls are 8-20 on the road. Something has got to give tonight, and I feel the Knicks may be victorious when all is said and done.
This will be the third matchup of the season between these teams with the series currently tied at one game a piece. Chicago and New York first faced off all the way back in October in just the fourth game of the season. The Knickerbockers emerged victorious in that one by a final score of 105-98. The Bulls were actually ahead by eight points at the end of the third quarter, but the Knicks outscored Chicago 33-15 to end up taking home the win. New York forward Bobby Portis put up his second highest scoring total of the season and led all players in the game with 28 points. The next time these tams faced off came just a few weeks later when the Bulls beat up on the Knicks in Chicago. The game was tied going into the fourth quarter, but Chicago was able to outplay the Knicks and ended up winning the game by 18 points for a 120-102 victory. Rookie Point Guard Coby White exploded for 27 points in the game and finished 7-11 from beyond the arc, which ended up setting a Bulls’ franchise record. Tonight’s game may certainly have a different outcome.
Chicago will have the best player on the basketball court in tonight’s game: Zach LaVine. The fifth year man out of UCLA is having a career year. LaVine leads all players in this matchup with 25.5 points per game. In fact, he is tied for the 11th most points per game in the NBA right now with, wait for it, LeBron James! He is also averaging more points per game this season than Joel Embiid, Pascal Siakam, Jayson Tatum, and a slew of other talented players. He has definitely been playing with a chip on his shoulder as of late because he was left out of the 2020 NBA All-Star Game. LaVine has upped his recent totals to 26.7 points on 48.6% shooting over his last ten games. I am sure LaVine will continue to dominate on the court tonight considering he is averaging 23 points per game against the Knicks. The issue for Chicago is that they will need to find some scoring elsewhere if they want to win, and I don’t think they will be able to do it tonight.
The Bulls come into this game as one of the most banged-up teams in the league right now. The Bulls’ 2016 and 2018 first round picks, Denzel Valentine and Wendell Carter Jr., have already been ruled out for tonight’s game. This comes as a huge blow to Chicago’s chances because Carter Jr. is fourth on the team in points and leads the Bulls in rebounds. This could be a big problem for Chicago because Julius Randle has elevated his game and become the go-to-guy in New York ever since the team traded away Marcus Morris Sr. On top of that, Coby White has been dealing with a back injury and is questionable to play in this game. Even if he does end up playing, he will not be nearly as effective as he has been over his last ten games where he has averaged 17.9 points off the bench. Meanwhile, the Knicks are relatively healthy and look hungry to end their six game losing streak. I think New York will win and cover the two and a half point spread.