CHARLOTTE HORNETS (19-15)
at CHICAGO BULLS (16-18)
Tip-off: Monday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: Pick, Total: 203.0
The Bulls will be looking to avoid a three-game losing streak when they host the Hornets on Monday.
Charlotte is coming off of a 121-109 loss to Cleveland, but the Hornets have been playing quite well recently. Prior to that defeat, the team had won five of its previous six games and covered in four of those contests. Charlotte will be hoping to keep up that level of play with a win over a Chicago team that is downright dysfunctional right now. The Bulls come into this game after having lost two straight games and eight of their past 11. Chicagoís offense has been a serious issue as of late, as the team has shot less than 40.0% from the floor in four of its past six games. These teams have already met once this season, and the Hornets won that game 103-91 as four-point home favorites. It was their third straight victory over the Bulls, and one of those victories was a 102-96 win as 5.5-point underdogs in Chicago as well. One trend that really stands out when looking at this game is the fact that the Bulls are a miserable 5-20 ATS against Southeast division opponents under head coach Fred Hoiberg. SG Marco Belinelli (Ankle) is questionable for Charlotte, though.
The Hornets are coming off of a loss to the Cavaliers, but PG Kemba Walker (22.7 PPG, 5.4 APG, 4.0 RPG, 1.3 SPG) certainly gave Cleveland all it could handle. Walker was on fire in that game, finishing with 37 points on 13-for-22 shooting from the floor. He should be able to have his way with Chicago as well, as the Bulls are seriously weak at the point guard position right now. SF Nicolas Batum (14.7 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 5.9 APG, 1.2 SPG) is another guy that should really play well in this one. When he faced the Bulls on Dec. 23, Batum finished the game with 20 points, 11 boards and 10 assists in 40 minutes of action. He was 7-for-15 from the floor in that game, and another efficient performance can be expected on Monday. Heíll just need to make sure heís locked in defensively, as he must hold his own against Jimmy Butler on that end. Another guy to keep an eye on for Charlotte is PF Frank Kaminsky (10.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG). Kaminskyís size gave the Bulls trouble last meeting, as he had 13 points and five boards in that Dec. 23 game. If he can hit from the outside then the Hornets might blow out the Bulls.
The Bulls are struggling right now, and they have recently moved PG Rajon Rondo (7.2 PPG, 7.1 APG, 6.5 RPG, 1.3 SPG) out of the rotation. Rondo was one of the Bullsí prized offseason acquisitions, but his 36.9% shooting from the floor was no longer cutting it. With Rondo benched, PG Michael Carter-Williams (4.7 PG, 4.1 RPG) is now the starter. Carter-Williams was once a promising young player in this league, but he has struggled to find his way. One thing that does make him a better fit in this starting lineup is that he does not really hold onto the ball very long. Thatíll allow both SF Jimmy Butler (24.6 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 4.3 APG, 1.7 SPG) and SG Dwyane Wade (18.8 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.4 SPG) to do most of the heavy lifting. Thatís the way it should be for this team, as Butler is one of the best players in the league right now and Wadeís resume speaks for itself. Look for both of them to play well against Charlotte in this one.