houston rockets vs chicago bulls prediction and preview

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NBA houston rockets vs chicago bulls prediction and preview


 

Image licensed from USA Today Sports

Just when the Houston Rockets (11-17) were starting to roll, a spate of injuries has stopped them in their tracks. Currently, the Rockets are without leading scorers Christian Wood and Victor Oladipo. PJ Tucker missed the last game against Philadelphia, but is expected to play tonight. DeMarcus Cousins is also listed as day-to-day, but should play.

Those injuries really hurt the Rockets in a 118-113 loss to Philadelphia in their last game. The 76ers built a double-digit lead through the middle quarters, but a late Houston run allowed the Rockets to cut the lead to just three points with 1:28 left in the game. Joel Embiid scored a couple of key late buckets to help Philadelphia pull away late. John Wall led the way with 28 points, while Cousins and Jae’Sean Tate scored 19 points each. Eric Gordon added 17 points.

The Chicago Bulls (13-16), who have dealt with their share of injuries this season, have won three of their past four games, including a 122-114 win over Sacramento. Zach LaVine led the way with 38 points, hitting 15 of his 20 shot attempts. That was his fourth consecutive game with 30+ points. Coby White added 19 points, hitting five of his eight three-point attempts. Thaddeus Young scored 18 points in the win.

The Rockets opened as the ever so slight favorites in this game, but injuries will play a huge role in the winner of this game. The Bulls will be without Otto Porter, Jr. (back) and Lauri Markkanen (shoulder).

Bulls Look to Extend Warm Streak Against Short Handed Rockets

The Chicago Bulls have won three of their last four games, and are catching the Rockets at just the right time. The Bulls are led by Zach LaVine, has been red hot recently. LaVine has averaged 28.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, and 5.1 apg while shooting 42.9% from beyond the arc. Coby White has averaged 15.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, and 5.3 apg. Leading rebounder Wendell Carter, Jr. has averaged 12.8 ppg and 7.4 rpg as he rounds into form coming off an injury.

 

As a team, the Bulls have an effective field goal percentage of 55.5%, 7th in the league. Chicago is 29th in the league in turnover percent (14.2%), 21st in offensive rebounding percent (20.7%) and 20th in free throws per field goal attempts (.185). Defensively, the Bulls are 19th in the NBA in opponents effective field goal percent (54.2%), 16th in opponent turnover percentage (12.6), 6th in defensive rebound percent (79.1%), and 25th in opponent free throws per field goal attempts (.219).

Struggling Rockets Staying Competitive Though Short Handed

The Houston Rockets traded James Harden, then got on a roll. But that roll ended as injuries to key players have mounted. The Rockets have now lost seven games in a row, but have been competitive in just about every one. That shows the Rockets have depth, but they need their key pieces back to have more consistent success. Unfortunately, it looks like they will only get PJ Tucker back. Tucker, a starter, has averaged just 4.8 ppg this season. The Rockets will still be without leading scorers Christian Wood and Victor Oladipo.

 

John Wall has taken over as the primary offensive weapon in Wood’s and Oladipo’s absences. Wall has raised his averages to 20.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg, and 6.2 apg. Eric Gordon has increased his minutes recently, averaging 18.7 ppg while shooting 35.1% from beyond the arc. Jae-Sean Tate has also taken on a more prominent role, and is averaging 9.9 ppg and 5.1 rpg.

Offensively, the Rockets are 21st in the NBA in effective field goal percent (52.6%), 25th in turnover percent (13.5%), 27th in offensive rebounding percent (18.9%), and 15th in free throws per field goal attempts (.189). Defensively, Houston is 6th in opponent’s effective field goal percent (52.2%), 6th in opponent turnover percent (13.6%), 15th in defensive rebounding percent (77.5%), and 22nd in opponent’s free throws per field goal attempts (.212).