Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#569 Sacramento Kings 221 vs.
#570 Chicago Bulls -1
Friday, January 24, 2020 at 8:05pm EST
United Center, Chicago
Written by Nick Raffoul

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#569 Sacramento
#570 Chicago
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The Sacramento Kings will travel to the United Center on Friday night as they continue their Eastern Conference road trip with a matchup versus the Chicago Bulls.

Don’t look now but the Chicago Bulls haven’t lost back-to-back games in nearly two weeks. Chicago has alternated wins and losses in each of its last six contests, going 3-0 against sub-.500 teams and 0-3 against teams with a winning record during that span. Can the Bulls keep their momentum going at home against a Kings team that has dropped six straight?

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Boylen doubles down on Markkanen

Chicago got back on the winning track on Wednesday night with a 117-110 victory at home over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Zach LaVine led the team in scoring for the ninth straight game with 25 points while Lauri Markkanen added 21 points for the Bulls, who overcame a 40-point night from Timberwolves’ center Karl-Anthony Towns. Christiano Felicio came off of the bench to add 12 points and 10 rebounds, as Chicago outscored Minnesota 30 to 13 at the free-throw line on the night.

A lot has been made about Markkanen’s recent decline in his second season under head coach Jim Boylen. The 22-year-old power forward has seen his numbers decrease across the board but Boylen has doubled down on his star big man. “This system was installed and I worked on this system last year and this summer because I think it fits who he is,” Boylen told the Chicago Sun-Times. Markkanen comes in averaging 15.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game while shooting just 34.4 percent from 3-point range -- down from 18.0 points, 7.6 boards, and 36.1 percent shooting from deep a year ago.

Unlike most teams on the outside looking in at the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference, maybe people are expecting the Bulls to be busy at the 2020 trade deadline in February. Last season, Chicago landed Otto Porter Jr. at the deadline in exchange for Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker. This year, Thaddeus Young, Kris Dunn, and Denzel Valentine are among the players that could be moved. Young is a veteran that most pundits expect to be dealt to a contender while Dunn has recently rebuilt his reputation as a defensive stopper and could garner some interest on the open market.

Bogdanovic not expected to be traded

Sacramento dropped its sixth consecutive contest on Wednesday night, losing 127-106 on the road against the Detroit Pistons. De’Aaron Fox scored 22 points and Dwayne Dedmon added 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Kings in the loss.

The Kings have been dealing with nagging injuries all season long, especially to their frontcourt rotation. Sacramento remains without Richaun Holmes, who has been dealing with a shoulder injury since Jan. 6. Holmes recently returned to practice but won’t be re-evaluated until next week. Meanwhile, former No. 2-overall pick Marvin Bagley missed the team’s last game against Detroit after sustaining a foot injury in the third quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Sacramento got a head start on the 2020 trade deadline by making an early swap with the Portland Trail Blazers last week. The Kings shipped Trevor Ariza, Wenyen Gabriel, and Caleb Swanigan to Portland in exchange for Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver. The move provided the Kings with a pair of defensive-minded veterans who will immediately contribute to a very young roster. Meanwhile, the player most people expected Sacramento to trade, Bogdan Bogdanovic, remains on the roster heading into the month of February. According to a report by NBC Sports, the impending free-agent guard is unlikely to be dealt before the trade deadline.

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The Kings might have come into the season with higher expectations but it seems like these two franchises are headed in opposite directions at the moment. Despite all the flak that Boylen has caught in Chicago, heโ€™s actually shown signs of changing the culture in Chicago. His players are buying in, especially on the defensive end, where the Bulls rank 11th in the league over their past 15 games. Chicago has also been performing well against sub-.500 opponents, going 5-1 in their last six games against teams with losing records. Sacramento is 3-12 with a -5.3 net rating during that span (24th in the NBA), so Iโ€™ll take my chances with the Bulls at home in this spot on Friday night.

Prediction: Chicago Bulls

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These two teams rank near the bottom of the league in offensive efficiency for the season and things havenโ€™t changed all that much over the last 15 games. Chicago ranks 27th in the league in offensive rating for the season while the Kings come in at No. 21 through their first 44 games. The Bulls and Kings rank 21st and 22nd in offensive rating over their last 15 games, respectively, so Iโ€™m not expecting an efficient offensive performance here. Add in the fact that Chicago has been improving on defense and Iโ€™ll be leaning towards the under in this matchup at the United Center on Friday night.

Prediction: Under
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Written By Nick Raffoul

Shortly after graduating with an Honors in Business Administration, Nick turned his attention from traditional stocks and bonds to investing in the performance of sports teams. And has now joined our team here at Winners & Whiners. Nick uses a combination of advanced stats and historical data to create sports investment models to identify value and generate consistent profits. Let Nick win for you.