It’s an inter-conference tilt between a team fighting to get in the playoffs and one fighting to collect ping pong balls in the Windy City. The LA Clippers are on the road as they travel to face the Chicago Bulls Tuesday night. LA won their second straight by beating Orlando 113-105 at home Saturday night. Chicago has alternated wins and losses in their last six after beating Atlanta 129-122 on the road Sunday afternoon. The Bulls lead the all-time regular season series 65-50 but the Clippers have won four straight meetings, including a 113-103 home win in the first matchup this season on February 3.
LA Clippers Try to Maintain Momentum, Playoff Spot
LA finished 4-2 on their six game homestand, winning four of the final five after starting it off with a loss to Houston. The Clippers entered Tuesday holding the seventh playoff spot in the Western Conference by a couple percentage points over three teams tied for the eighth through 10th spots. LA led by three after one and trailed by two after three quarters before outscoring Orlando 26-16 in the fourth to get the win. The Clippers shot 52.6 percent from the floor and connected on seven of their 18 three point attempts while winning the rebounding battle 41-33. Lou Williams paced LA with 25 points in the victory.
The Clippers are currently 7th in the league in scoring offense with 109.4 points per game. LA is 11th in the league in rebounding with 44 boards per game and stand 19th in assists with 22.4 per contest. The Clippers are mediocre defensively, ranking 22nd in scoring defense by allowing 108.1 points per game. Tobias Harris (18.5 points, 5.6 boards) and Avery Bradley (14.3 points) were acquired from Detroit in the Blake Griffin deal and are key components of the Clippers’ rotation. Bradley is currently out after surgery for a sports hernia. DeAndre Jordan puts up 11.9 points and 15.3 rebounds per night. Lou Williams (23.1 points, 5.4 assists) and Danilo Gallinari (15.9 points, 4.9 rebounds) are solid offensive weapons for Doc Rivers. Gallinari returned after missing 25 games with a glute injury against the Trail Blazers on January 30. Patrick Beverley (12.2 points, 1.73 steals) is likely done for the year after microfracture surgery. Boban Marjanovic, Austin Rivers (15.5 points), Tyrone Wallace, Sam Dekker, Wesley Johnson and Milos Teodosic are good rotation players for the Clippers. LA is 9th in the league in field goal percentage as they shoot 47 percent from the floor. The Clippers are tied for 19th in three pointers a game with 9.9 per contest and tied for 23rd in three point shooting as they hit 35.2 percent of their long range attempts.
Chicago Bulls Playing for Ping Pong Balls
Chicago has split their last six after losing four straight leading into that stretch as they rallied to take down the Hawks. The Bulls, who are playing for next season as they are long since dead in the water for the postseason, trailed 24-8 in the first quarter and 34-20 at the end of one. Chicago rallied to lead by three at the half and never trailed in the second half as they took care of business. The Bulls shot 49 percent from the field and drained 17 of 37 three point attempts. Most importantly, they turned the ball over just five times in the game: Zach LaVine and Bobby Portis (10 boards, five assists) each had 21 points to lead Chicago in the victory.
The Bulls enter this contest 23rd in the league in scoring offense with 103.4 points per game. Chicago is 7th in the league in rebounding with 44.6 boards a night while standing 10th with 23.5 assists per contest. The Bulls have been mediocre defensively as they are 24th by allowing 109.4 points per contest. Justin Holiday is contributing 12.9 points plus 4.4 boards a game. Lauri Markkanen chips in 14.9 points plus 7.6 rebounds a contest, Robin Lopez adds 12.1 points plus 4.6 boards a night and Jerian Grant is good for 8.3 points plus 4.8 assists a night. Denzel Valentine (9.8 points), Bobby Portis (13 points, 6.6 rebounds), Kris Dunn (13.5 points, six assists), David Nwaba, Paul Zipser, Noah Vonleh and Cristiano Felicio have to pick up the slack to help Zach LaVine, who puts up 16.9 points a night since coming back. Dunn missed 11 games with a concussion and having two teeth knocked out in a rough fall against the Warriors January 17: he returned against the Raptors February 14. Chicago is 29th in the league in field goal percentage as they shoot 43.8 percent from the floor. The Bulls are tied for 9th in the league with 11 three pointers a game and stands tied for 18th by shooting 35.8 percent from beyond the arc.
- Clippers are 6-0-1 ATS in their last 7 road games vs. a team with a losing home record
- Clippers are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 vs. NBA Central
- Clippers are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games following an ATS loss
- Bulls are 1-11 ATS in their last 12 after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game
- Bulls are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games following a straight up win
- Bulls are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games following an ATS win
The Bulls are coming off a win but let’s not kid ourselves: that win came over an Atlanta team that is buried in the basement of the Eastern Conference. It benefitted the Hawks to lose that game as it helps improve their position for ping pong balls. LA is not in that situation as they are part of an eight team dogfight for six playoff spots in the West. That means they have to take care of business against teams they should beat. This is one of those times: look for the Clippers, even on the road, to prevail here and maintain their position in the West.