The 28-17 Chicago Bulls will head to Oklahoma City tonight to take on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the 14-32 OKC Thunder. It will be the first meeting between the two teams this season. The Thunder have gone 8-14 at home this season, while the Bulls are a tick above .500 at 12-11 on the road.
The Chicago Bulls have been decimated by injuries as of late, as they are without Lonzo Ball for an extended time as well as Alex Caruso and All-Star Zach LaVine. Chicago played their first game this season without these three-star players yesterday in Orlando and suffered an ugly defeat in which DeMar DeRozan went off for 41 points. It is clear that DeRozan, another All-Star and potential All-Star Game starter, cannot do it all without these three on the floor with him. However, LaVine could be making a return tonight. Nonetheless, the Bulls are going to have to step up to get the help they need.
The Thunder are reeling, as they have lost their last five games and 10 of their last 11. The defense, which was once a strong point for Oklahoma City, has regressed tremendously during this brutal stretch.
How Oklahoma City Can Win:
The OKC Bench is crucial in this game. Led by win Kenrich Williams, the Thunder bench has been a constant throughout the season, ranking 13th in PPG. They are the type of guys to put in when the going gets rough and you need that spark to lift the team up again. This is also an important game for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Averaging 23-6-5 in the Thunder’s recent slump, SGA is going to have to create offense on his own if he wants to keep the Thunder in the game. Finally, the Thunder must make containing DeRozan a priority. Despite constant double-team, DeRozan is averaging 31-5-4 in his last five.
How Chicago Can Win:
Let DeRozan and LaVine work. The three-ball is going to need to fly, as the Bulls lead the league in three-point percentage. Oklahoma City is coming off one of its best defensive performances of the season, as they just limited a more slashing and inside team in Cleveland to 94 points. Someone is going to have to step up to fill the void for Caruso and Ball, so look for rookie Ayo Dosunmu and Coby White to try to do so.
Odds via FanDuel:
Chicago Bulls (-1) ML: -122
Oklahoma City Thunder (+1) ML: +104
Final Prediction: Oklahoma City 111, Chicago Bulls 105
Anthony Ravasio is a writer for TWSN and a student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. In his downtime, you can find Anthony watching sports, enjoying his time with friends or family, or tracking his bets on Action (or all three at once). You can find TWSN on Twitter @TWSN___ and Instagram @twsn___. You can find Anthony on Twitter @anthonyravasio or Instagram @ravasiosports as well.