The Bulls had their best win of the season in their most recent matchup against the Magic with a dominant 22-point drubbing over the Orlando squad. Everyone chipped in as well, with seven players scoring in double figures.
Justin Holiday (19) and David Nwaba (16) were at the head of that with Jerian Grant contributing six assists. Chicago were hot from the perimeter, shooting over 48% from three compared to the Magic’s 28.6%. They also defended well, keeping them to under 41% from the field.
New Orleans prevailed in a close one against the Mavericks, closing it out 99-94. DeMarcus Cousins had another sensational night posting 20 points, 22 rebounds, seven assists and a steal. His front court partner in crime wasn’t too bad either; Anthony Davis put up 30 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, three blocks and a steal.
It wasn’t the prettiest of wins with neither team shooting well from the perimeter (New Orleans: 24.1%, Dallas: 26.5%). The Pelicans were able to beat them down low, scoring over half of their points in the paint (50) and getting to the free throw line subsequently an extra four times.
Three keys to the game
Team offense – With the Pelicans outmatching the Bulls in individual talent, the Bulls will have to repeat what they did against the Magic and have a collective buy-in from the entire squad on the offensive end.
If they can get two or three players to score 15 points or more while getting another four or five players to chip in with 8-10, it’ll go a long way to keeping the game competitive.
Rebounding – Despite the Bulls many shortcomings they remain one of the best rebounding teams in the NBA averaging over 48 per game. They’ll have a tough time keeping that effort up against two of the best individual rebounders in the game but if they can keep it even on the glass, they give themselves a chance of getting first possession and some easy second chance points.
Forcing bad shots – The Bulls will be hoping the Pelicans have another poor night from the floor because it hasn’t been indicative of their season so far.
As a team they have one of the best true shooting percentages, thanks to their two big men. If Chicago can force New Orleans’ front court to take tough shots outside of the paint, then they’ll be able to keep the game much closer.
Matchup to watch
Anthony Davis vs Lauri Markkanen – Markkanen has started the season well for Chicago, especially his shooting form. He will have a tough time on the defensive end taking on one of the game’s elite big men.
The Pelicans should look to feed Davis early down low to deplete the confidence of the Bulls’ rookie and keep exploiting the significant size difference. The best Markkanen can hope for is he can keep Davis honest by nailing his shots on the offensive side.
New Orleans Pelicans projected starting lineup
PG – Jrue Holiday | SG – E’Twaun More | SF – Dante Cunningham | PF – Anthony Davis | C – DeMarcus Cousins
Chicago Bulls projected starting lineup
PG – Jerian Grant | SG – Justin Holiday | SF – David Nwaba | PF – Lauri Markkanen | C – Robin Lopez
For the Bulls, look no further than rookie Lauri Markkanen. He’s the team’s leading points scorer (17.2) and rebounder (9.3). He doesn’t do much on the defensive end, only averaging half a steal and half a block per game, but if he can get his offense going early look for him to have a big night.
As always, look to Davis or Cousins for your fantasy picks from the Pelicans. The two big men are double-double machines and are a threat to post 25 points and 10 rebounds with a block and steal or two on a nightly basis. With the Bulls thin up front, look for one or both of them to have a big night on the box score.
The Pelicans are seven-point favorites in this matchup. That’s a good bet given the talent disparity between the two squads; look for them to cover that with ease.
The total scoring consensus is at 203. While the Bulls only average a little over 92 points per game, they were hot in their last outing against the Magic. The Pelicans meanwhile are in the top half of the NBA for points per game so the over looks the likely option to choose.
The talent up front for the Pelicans will prove too much for the Bulls. New Orleans will bully their way to a dominant win, 110-95.
Catch this one on league pass, NBC Sports Chicago and Fox Sports New Orleans. Tip off is at 8pm ET at the United Center.
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