Chicago Looks For Home Magic Against Los Angeles
The Chicago Bulls try to continue their home dominance this season when they host the LA Clippers in a battle of teams gearing up for the postseason on Thursday night. The Clippers are all but locked in the Western Conference play-in tournament with six games to play. Chicago is in the mix in the Eastern Conference but would like to move up, into a top-four position again. Both teams will be looking to pick up a win to improve their standing, so before you bet online on this one, check our in-depth preview of the contest.
George’s Return Lights Fire For Clippers
The LA Clippers have been without their top stars, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, for much of this season, which is why they’ll have to fight their way into the playoffs in the play-in tournament. But George returned to the lineup on Tuesday after three months and scored 34 points in helping the Clippers rally for a home win over the Utah Jazz.
“It’s a big morale boost,” Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue said after Tuesday’s win. “Guys were getting worn down and tired. We needed that.”
George is averaging 25.0 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game this season, but he’s been on the court for just 27 games due to a sprained right elbow. He helped push Los Angeles to a surprising Western Conference finals appearance a season ago, and he’ll likely have to be the catalyst if the team is going to repeat anything close to that this season.
Guard Reggie Jackson has been the team’s top scorer in George’s absence, averaging 16.9 points while also leading the team with 4.8 assists per game. Jackson should be more effective with defenses having to focus on George a bit more.
Marcus Morris Sr. will play a key role for the Clippers in this one on both ends of the floor. He is scoring 15.4 points per game, but it’s his physical defense and rebounding that will be a big help against a solid Bulls front line.
Bulls Trying To Recapture Their Form
Earlier in the season, the Chicago Bulls looked like they would battle for the top spot in the Eastern Conference standings. Now, with just a few games left in the regular season, they’re fighting for home-court advantage in the first round of the postseason.
Having the team’s potent 1-2 punch of forward DeMar DeRozan, and guard Zach LaVine is key. Both players have missed some time recently with nagging injuries, but the duo was together again on Tuesday when the Bulls topped the Washington Wizards.
DeRozan had 32 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and two steals in that contest, and he looks to be ready to go after having a groin issue last week. DeRozan is sixth in the NBA in scoring at 27.7 points per game while also averaging 5.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists per contest. He’s also proven to be one of the best clutch performers in the fourth quarter this season.
LaVine is still trying to manage a left knee injury, and the Bulls have him as day-to-day, though he did play against Washington on Tuesday. The shooting guard is averaging 24.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists per contest, and Chicago would rather have him 100% than risk losing him for the postseason while fighting for regular-season victories.
Center Nikola Vucevic went for 27 points against Washington on Tuesday, and he’s averaging a double-double of 18.1 points and 11.2 rebounds. The veteran big man will be very important against the bigger front lines of the East come playoff time.
Clippers vs Bulls Head-to-Head
The Chicago Bulls took the first meeting of the season with the LA Clippers, earning a 10-point victory back in mid-November. That was in contrast to last season’s series sweep by the Clippers, who won both contests between the two clubs.
Los Angeles has dominated this series of late, winning nine of the last 11, but this season’s Bulls team is completely remade from past incarnations. Chicago has been the better team this season, which is why the NBA lines are favoring the home team in this one.
LA Clippers vs Chicago Bulls Game Information
- Game: LA Clippers (37-39) at Chicago Bulls (44-32)
- Location: United Center
- Day/Time: Thursday, March 31st ,8:00 p.m. ET
- Live stream: NBA Game Pass
LA Clippers vs Chicago Bulls Betting Lines
LA Clippers vs Chicago Bulls Prediction
Getting George back in the lineup is big for the LA Clippers, but it’s going to take a while before he’s back in full form. The Chicago Bulls have too many weapons for the Clippers to keep up in this one, and they should complete the season sweep with a win on Thursday night.
When doing your NBA betting, take Chicago to win and cover at home.