Brooklyn is looking for its second straight win as six point favorites over Chicago
The Brooklyn Nets have a completely new look now as opposed to when the season began all the way back in October. Halfway through the year, Kyrie Irving was lost for the season after undergoing shoulder surgery. Things took an even more surprising turn yesterday after the team mutually parted ways with Head Coach Kenny Atkinson. Despite leading the Nets to the playoffs in 2019, Brooklyn has been disappointing this year with a below .500 record and has failed to over-achieved as so many experts predicted they would before the season began. It’ll now be on interim coach Jacque Vaughn to guide this team to the playoffs, and he should find success in his first game as a coach when the Nets take on the lowly Chicago Bulls at home at 3 PM EST.
The Bulls and Nets will face off for the third time this season later today. Brooklyn has dominated this series in 2019-2020 and has had plenty of success against Chicago over the last couple of years. The Nets are 8-1 in their last nine games against the Bulls. The last time Chicago beat Brooklyn was when the Bulls topped the Nets 125-106 in February of 2019. Since then, it has been all Brooklyn all the way. The Nets have beaten the Bulls twice this season already. The first game was a 117-111 victory for the Nets in Chicago. Brooklyn won the game without Kyrie Irving and managed to pull out the victory despite a 36 point outing from Zach LaVine. The Nets also won the more recent meeting in late January by a final score of 133-118. The difference maker in that game was Kyrie Irving, who exploded for 54 points, which was a season high for any player on the Nets this year. Brooklyn will be forced to play without Kyrie Irving once again, but I am still confident that they will be able to get the job done against the Bulls.
The biggest storyline headed in to today’s matchup has to do with an individual who might not even be playing in the game. Zach LaVine is currently listed as inactive for this matchup on ESPN.com, but CBS Sports is reporting that LaVine is questionable to play today. Even if he does play, LaVine will likely be limited after tweaking his quadricep. The former 2014 first round pick has not played since the Bulls fell to the Knicks last Sunday 125-115. This could mean disaster for Chicago as LaVine leads all players in this contest with 25.5 points per game including an average of 29 points in the Bulls’ two meetings with Brooklyn. I am sure that the Nets will be able to take advantage of a hobbled Bulls team that will most likely be without their best player.
The important statistics have me leaning in favor of the Nets. Brooklyn is scoring more points per game while averaging more rebounds, assists, and blocks than the Bulls. Chicago does have a small advantage in field goal percentage, but the Nets trail the Bulls by just two-tenths of a percent 44.6% to 44.4%. Furthermore, I don’t think the Bulls have the firepower to keep pace with Brooklyn if Zach LaVine is limited/doesn’t play. Lauri Markkanen is Chicago’s second leading scorer, but I think DeAndre Jordan will be able to keep him in check. With 9.9 boards per game, Jordan is the 11th best rebounder in the entire NBA. I am sure the Nets will focus their efforts on keeping the glass clean and making life miserable for Markkanen. On top of that, Caris LeVert is still playing out of his mind, averaging 24 points over his last ten games. He was held to just three points in the only game he played against Chicago this season, but that was a clear outlier performance, so I expect him to up his game later today. And of course, Spencer Dinwiddie is still playing like a beast. Through 62 games, the former second round pick is putting up 20.5 points on average and is scoring 22 points per game in two match-ups with the Bulls! The numbers have me favoring the Nets all the way.
I am certain the Nets will be able to cover the six point spread regardless of who is healthy. If Zach LaVine plays, this game will be close, but I am sure he will see limited action even if he is active, so the matchup will be somewhat close, but the Nets would still win by a handful of points. If LaVine doesn’t play, then this could be a blowout victory for the Nets. Either way, Brooklyn gets coach Vaughn his first win in comfortable fashion and cover the six point spread.