- The Los Angeles Lakers are 9.5-point favorites for their game in Chicago on Saturday night (9 p.m. EST)
- The Bulls nearly upset L.A. in their last meeting earlier this month, but the Lakers were without several key players
- Read below for analysis and a pick on their upcoming game
The Chicago Bulls very nearly upset the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers when they met earlier this month at the Staples Center.
Although Chicago gave LA all it could handle in a narrow 117-115 final, the likelihood of a repeat performance at home on Saturday night appears minimal.
Anthony Davis and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope didn’t play in the two teams’ first meeting, but are expected to suit up in their rematch, and the Lakers are 9.5-point favorites this time around. The Lakers are 8-1 this season on one day of rest, which is the situation on Saturday, after they beat the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday, 113-106.
LA Lakers vs Chicago Bulls Odds
|LA Lakers||-9.5 (-105)||O 227.5 (-115)|
|Chicago Bulls||+9.5 (-115)||U 227.5 (-105)|
Odds taken from BetMGM on Jan. 22nd.
Key Personnel Changes
When the two teams played earlier in the season, Bulls big man Wendell Carter had 23 points and 7 rebounds. Carter didn’t suit up on Friday night in Chicago’s game against Charlotte, and appears likely to sit on Saturday night as well with a thigh contusion.
I know Anthony Davis was critical of his own play last night, but I continue to be impressed by the passing reads he is making. Here he attacks the closeout, draws the help defense, and kicks it to the corner (while avoiding the charge)
Easier said than done for someone his size pic.twitter.com/c5ZpL6LP5C
— Alex Regla (@AlexmRegla) January 22, 2021
That puts the Bulls’ front court in a difficult situation with Davis expected back on the floor for LA. He wasn’t dominant against the Bucks on Thursday, but still finished just shy of a double-double with 18 points and nine rebounds. He’s been somewhat of a mainstay on the Lakers’ injury report with an apparent ankle injury, but has played in six consecutive games and played more than 37 minutes in each of LA’s last two games. Per 36 minutes, Davis is averaging 23.2 points and has a 52-percent field goal percentage.
On offense, the Lakers have been the sixth-best team at scoring points in the paint, while the Bulls have been among the league’s worst on defense in that category over their last three games. Davis is certainly not a dedicated post player, but with Carter out or hobbled, he and the rest of Lakers should be able to take advantage of the space under the rim.
“We tough on the road, man.” – @CaldwellPope pic.twitter.com/l6A4BUT4qQ
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 22, 2021
Caldwell-Pope can be a streaky player at times, but outside of the Lakers’ collective no-show against Golden State on January 18, he’s been strong overall in recent games. Against the Bucks, all of his shots were three-pointers and he hit seven-of-ten. For the season, he’s shot nearly 57-percent from distance, and the Bulls are 22nd in the league in opponent three-point percentage.
Both teams are capable of putting up points on a nightly basis. The Lakers are clearly flush with star players and offensive talent, and the Bulls have the second-highest pace of play in the NBA this season.
In the second of back-to-back games this season, Chicago is 1-2 overall, but has gone over the 227.5 mark projected for tomorrow night in each one. Chicago games have finished under that threshold in four of the seven games where the total has been set at 227.5-points or higher. However, the Bulls have combined with opponents to go over closing point totals in four of their last five outings — including two of their last three, which all closed at 225 or 226 points.
The Lakers are only 3-2 ATS this season as favorites of 7.5-points or more, but all LA games have finished under the point total when they have been 227.5-points or higher.
The Bulls are 10-4 against the spread overall so far, and 7-2 ATS when the spread closed at six points or more. Unfortunately, the deck appears too stacked against them with Carter looking like a scratch and the Lakers arriving with more ammunition than the last time they met.
The Lakers have been playing championship-caliber defense as of late, and have a roster loaded with top players that can drive the ball and shoot threes. Chicago’s shortcomings on defense start with defending those two things, and they’ll be even worse off without Carter on the floor. The Bulls might have spooked Los Angeles earlier this month, but don’t count on it on Saturday.
The Pick: Lakers -9.5 (-105)