The Pelicans started the season looking like a potential juggernaut by winning their first four games on the back of an explosive offense, but injuries to Anthony Davis and Elfrid Payton plus little depth on the wing has resulted in a six-game losing streak after that hot start.
Davis has missed three games this season with an elbow injury and hasn’t looked like himself since suffering the injury a couple of weeks ago. After looking like a legitimate MVP candidate in the first three games, he hasn’t shot over 40 percent from the field in a game since.
Still, slowing down Davis will be a tall order for Wendell Carter Jr. and co. The Bulls rookie has had issues with foul trouble, and he’ll have to focus on avoiding some of those cheap fouls against a superstar player, as well as the strong Julius Randle.
Payton has missed the last five games and is questionable against the Bulls. While Payton has never been particularly good, he played well to start this season and is an upgrade on what else the Pelicans have. Jrue Holiday is obviously terrific and E’Twaun Moore is solid, but there are no other reliable guards/wings on that roster, which is why I feel like Justin Holiday would make a lot of sense in NOLA.
This game also means a meeting with old friend Nikola Mirotic, who has been producing at a high level. While he’s in a 3-point shooting slump and is down to 35.3 percent from out there, he’s still shooting 50 percent overall and putting up 21.8 points and 11.4 rebounds per game for the season.
For the Bulls, they’re looking for a second straight win after whatever that was at MSG on Monday. Zach LaVine almost single-handedly won that game with his career-high 41 points, and he’ll likely get a large dose of Jrue Holiday, one of the best defenders in the league.
Robin Lopez was dusted off for a lengthy stint in New York, and it wouldn’t be a big surprise to see more of him Wednesday given the Pelicans’ strong frontcourt.
The Bulls are a heavy underdog in this game (10.5 points), but since the Warriors debacle they’ve done a nice job competing with teams clearly better than them. This game being on the road makes this a tougher challenge, so hopefully the Bulls can remain competitive at the very least.
Tip-off is at 7 p.m. CT. The game will be televised on NBC Sports Chicago.
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