The Charlotte Hornets and Chicago Bulls have both fought through injuries and other absences to find themselves in the playoff race in the Eastern Conference. On Thursday in Chicago, the Hornets and Bulls square off for the second time this season.
Both teams are looking to continue fighting en route to a win that could help their postseason chances.
Hitting a Slump
Charlotte has fallen apart late this season, dropping five of its last six games to drop into the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. Troubling for Charlotte is who it has lost to lately, as the Hornets have dropped recent games against fellow playoff contenders in the Knicks, Hawks, Lakers and Nets. Against another playoff hopeful in the Bulls, Charlotte will need to raise its level.
The issue for the Hornets of late has been their offense, which has struggled to put points on the board. Charlotte has failed to break 105 points in four of its last six games and hasn’t reached 100 points in three of those six.
Without Gordon Hayward and LaMelo Ball, the Hornets have failed to fill the offensive void, which could result in their stock continuing to drop in the East standings.
Needing a Turnaround
The Bulls have struggled lately as well, dropping six of their last eight games. That slide has cost them dearly, as they have dropped out of the top 10 in the Eastern Conference standings.
Thanks to the Bulls’ struggles coinciding with a hot streak from the Wizards, Washington has leaped ahead of Chicago for 10th place in the East, which is the last that gets into the new play-in tournament.
For the Bulls, it’s been health and safety protocols that has cost them their star player rather than injuries. Zach LaVine has missed several games for the Bulls as he was placed into the league’s health and safety protocols, which has coincided with the Bulls’ recent dip in form.
Without its leading scorer, Chicago has also struggled to put the ball in the basket, though not as much as the Hornets have without their stars.
The Bulls have the home-court advantage for this game, but playing at the United Center has been anything but an advantage for Chicago so far this season. Chicago is just 11-18 in its home games, which is a bottom-five mark in the NBA.
Without the ability to win at home reliably, it is hard to back the Bulls, even in a game that is as winnable as this one against the Hornets.
There is no justification for taking one side or the other in this game, as both teams have been consistently bad of late. But the total may be a spot to derive some value, as the total of 209 is extremely low for an NBA contest.
Both the Hornets and Bulls have struggled offensively lately without their star players, but even average offensive performances from both teams will be enough to beat this low total and cash the over.