The point is give LaVine the ball and he’ll put on a show. An exhilarating All-Star show. In his fourth season with the Chicago Bulls, he’s averaging 28.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game—all career-highs. He’s shooting at a high-volume, insanely efficient 53 percent from the field and 44 percent from 3s.
He needs help, though. After LaVine, the next performer in line for the Bulls is Lauri Markkanen, who’s missed half of the season due to injuries and is averaging 18.3 points per game. After him is sophomore Coby White, who’s chipping in 15.5 points per game, mostly off the bench.
LaVine, Markkanen, White—not exactly the Big 3 that could topple the beasts in the East. The Bulls’ 19-22 win-loss record reflects that, only good enough for a play-in slot in the Eastern Conference. If only the Bulls could provide a much more balanced attack.
Enter the Utah Jazz.
The Jazz have been sitting at the top of the league since the early stages of the season. Doubters doubted, but the playoffs are fast approaching and here we are: a 30-11 Utah team still at the top of the league.
While the Bulls rely on LaVine’s hard-hitting solo riffs, the Jazz are—no, not jazzy—more symphony orchestra. They’re an ensemble that combines many different things, like Donovan Mitchell’s dominance, Rudy Gobert’s stifling defense, Jordan Clarkson’s freestyling, Joe Ingles’ efficiency, and Mike Conley’s class, to name a few. They have so many different set pieces that somehow jive into one harmonious unit.
The Jazz are at the tail-end of a tough road trip that had them facing the Golden State Warriors (loss), the Boston Celtics (win), the Washington Wizards (loss), and the Toronto Raptors (win). The target on their backs are getting bigger and bigger in every game, and the challenge now is how they can switch up the beat leading up to the postseason.
The Bulls, meanwhile, will be playing on the second night of a back-to-back. If a tireless LaVine (he hasn’t missed a game, averaging 35.5 minutes in each) shows up, guitar in hand, ready to rock—plus he gets a little help from his friends—the Jazz are in store for another down-to-the-wire game.
Catch the Bulls-Jazz clash at 9:00 AM on NBA TV Philippines.