After weeks and weeks of numerous questions from both the media and the fans, Chicago Bulls head coach Jim Boylen finally gave everyone the answer they wanted. He confirmed that tonight will be the first start of rookie Coby White’s career. Sending Tomas Satoransky to the reserves unit, this looks to be another step in the Bulls quest for searching for development of their young core. With their chances looking slimmer and slimmer, it makes sense for Chicago to look towards the future. While White starting shouldn’t be any major vote of confidence in the Bulls going forward, this was a move many saw coming a mile away.
White has been a sparkplug off the bench in the past couple of weeks, averaging 25 points per game in the nine games he’s played after the All-Star break. Combine this with an impressive February (20.1 points, 4.1 assists, and 58.5 TS%) and you can see why Chicago decided to hand the keys to the offense to him. With Zach LaVine out, the Bulls starting lineup is missing a guy who can create his own shot and White’s the only other option at the moment. While it will come at the detriment of bench scoring, this is an interesting move by the Bulls. Their place in the standings may have something to do with this as well. Right now Chicago sits 11th in the East and are eight games behind Orlando for the final playoff spot. In fact, they are closer to bottom of the East (two games) than they are to postseason. If the Bulls were more competitive you could argue that starting White may have not been the right move. He’s still a rookie and the jump from college to the NBA is steep, especially for a point guard. White is learning on the fly and in turn, he will make mistakes. With a record of 21-34, Chicago finds themselves in a position where they can afford to do that.
Tonight is a huge game for the tank for both the Bulls and their opponents in the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs sit at the bottom of the conference but are four games behind the Warriors for the worst record in the league. With the Hawks, Pistons (0.5 games ahead), and Knicks (1 game ahead), right on their tail, this game could have ramifications when it comes to lottery odds. Things have actually looked up for the Cavaliers as of late. They are on a two-game wining streak, beating both the Nuggets and Spurs at home in back to back days. On Sunday, they got 28 points from Andre Drummond and 26 by Colin Sexton to defeat San Antonio 132-129 in OT. The Cavs dominated the boards in that game, out rebounding their opponents 60-44. This is the first of three key games when it comes to movement in the standings as well as the start of a six game road trip. Cleveland plays Charlotte and Atlanta to close out this week.
Injury report: Zach LaVine is still out with a left quad strain while Chandler Hutchison remains out with an AC sprain in his shoulder. Ryan Arcidiacono is questionable with an Achilles injury.
As for Cleveland, Dante Exum and Darius Garland are out with a left ankle and left groin injury respectively. Kevin Porter Jr. is out with a concussion while Tristian Thompson is out with an abrasion in his right cornea.
Game Time: 7PM CT
TV: NBC Sports Chicago
Betting Odds: The Bulls opened as a 4.5 point favorite (via the Action Network) but the it’s shifted to -4. You can find the Bulls (-3.5) at some places. As for the O/U, you can them at a 216.5, 217, and 217.5 respectively.