The San Antonio Spurs (20-25) will have a more difficult time avoiding a three-game losing streak tonight against the Chicago Bulls (18-30) because LaMarcus Aldridge is out for the game with a thumb injury. Officially, the Spurs say Aldridge has a sprained right thumb.
With Aldridge out, oddsmakers have pegged the Bulls as the favorites to win this game. That makes sense because not only will San Antonio be missing one of their two top players, they are playing on the second game of a back-to-back and the Spurs are worse on the road (8-13) than the Bulls are at home (10-15).
Aldridge being banged up isn’t surprising considering how invisible he was last game against the Toronto Raptors. In that game, the star big man was scoreless in the second half on 0-for-2 shooting from the floor. An injured thumb on his shooting hand would explain his quiet night.
Chicago Bulls Injury Update
The Spurs aren’t the only team dealing with injuries. Lauri Markkanen, the up and coming big man for the Bulls, is out at least four weeks with an injury to his pelvis. Otto Porter Jr. will also miss the game due to a foot injury.
San Antonio Spurs Starting Lineup with LaMarcus Aldridge Out
Head coach Gregg Popovich will need to shuffle the starting lineup with Aldridge sidelined. The most likely scenario has Pop going with a starting five of Dejounte Murray, Bryn Forbes, DeMar DeRozan, Trey Lyles and Jakob Poeltl.
However, in the second half against the Raptors, the Spurs started Derrick White in place of Lyles and the results were positive. If Pop decides to give that alignment another looking, it’s possible he could start White, Murray, Forbes, DeRozan and Poeltl.
The backup center role could be played by Lyles or Pop could give Drew Eubanks or Chimezie Metu a chance.
Chicago Bulls Starting Lineup
The Bulls are coming off a win against the Cleveland Cavaliers in which they used a starting lineup of Kris Dunn, Tomas Satoransky, Zach LaVine, Thaddeus Young and Luke Kornet. That starting five played really well together so it’d be a surprise if Chicago changes things up.
Key Matchup – Spurs at Bulls
LaVine is the player the Spurs really need to keep in check. With Markkanen out, LaVine becomes the sole focus of Chicago’s attack. He’s coming off a game against the Cavs in which he poured in 44 points, ten rebounds and eight assists on 16-for-30 shooting from the floor and 5-for-12 shooting from beyond the three-point arc.
Pop can’t start the game with Forbes on LaVine, as that would be risk igniting the Bulls dynamic scorer. Either Murray or White need to be defending LaVine from the opening tip.
Prediction: Spurs at Bulls
The Spurs have been better against plus-.500 teams as of late. But maybe the fact that they are shorthanded due to Aldridge’s injury will keep them properly focused. I’m predicting a close game with the Spurs eking this one out.
San Antonio Spurs – 102
Chicago Bulls – 100