Friday, March 15 at 10:30 PM ET
The Chicago Bulls look to get back on track when they visit the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night.
After playing surprisingly well recently, the Bulls have lost three straight games (two losses to the Pistons and one loss to the Lakers). Tonight they head to the STAPLES Center to play a playoff-bound Clippers team with young, talented players and one of the best sixth men in the NBA in Lou Williams.
A big part of the Chicago's recent struggles is Lauri Markkanen's shooting slump. The second-year forward had an incredible month of February but he's struggling in a major way during the team's current losing streak.
Markkanen is averaging just 15.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game in the last three games while shooting just 37.0 percent from the field and 23.8 percent from 3-point range. He was 0-for-8 from beyond the arc against the Lakers and he's making just 19.4 percent of his 3-pointers in the last five games (6-for-31).
Every player goes through slumps but if the Bulls want to win this game they need Markkanen to find his rhythm. If he struggles with his shot, the Bulls will be in trouble.
The potential return of Zach LaVine can also make a difference for the Bulls. LaVine is playing the best basketball of his career, he's averaging 29.8 points and shot 48.2 percent from the field in 39.0 minutes over his last five games and he scored 24 points in last Friday’s 112-104 home loss against the Pistons but he hasn't played since because of a strained right patellar tendon. The Bulls are 4-5 without LaVine this season.
The star shooting guard was dominant in February, averaging 24.5 points, 5.8 assists and 5.4 rebounds while shooting 53.2 percent from the field and 49.0 percent from 3-point range in 35.1 minutes over 10 games and he leads the Bulls with 23.8 points, 4.4 assists while shooting 46.8 percent. LaVine also grabs 4.6 rebounds in 34.5 minutes over 60 games.
The Chicago Bulls are:
5-2 ATS in their last seven games following a double-digit loss at home
7-3 ATS in their last 10 Friday games
7-3 ATS in their last 10 road games
The Los Angeles Clippers are:
1-7 ATS in their last eight games following a double-digit loss at home
The Clippers suffered a tough 125-104 home loss against the Trail Blazers last Tuesday but they didn't have their second leading scorer Danilo Gallinari due to an ankle injury. Gallinari's status for this game is questionable but this is a talented and deep team with playoff hopes and playing for each other.
If LaVine and Markkanen play well, the Bulls have a good chance of being competitive in this game but if LaVine suffers a setback with his injury or if Markkanen's shots aren't falling then the Clippers will get an easy win.
NBA Pick: Bulls +8 (-110) at Jazz Sports
Check odds here: http://bit.ly/jazzsportsON