Tune-In Tidbits: ESPN Friday, May 7, 2021
Get ready for Friday's ESPN doubleheader with five key stats to know about each matchup.
Brian Martin, for NBA.com
Celtics (35-31) at Bulls (27-39)
7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
• The Celtics and Bulls split their first two games of the season series, with the Bulls missing a key player for each contest. Zach LaVine scored a game-high 30 points in Chicago’s loss on Jan. 25 but missed the second game. Nikola Vucevic scored 29 points on 13-23 FG in Chicago’s win on April 19, but had yet to join the team for the first game. Vucevic scored 13 points on 7-11 shooting in 6:04 (52.8% of total matchup time) against Tristan Thompson, and eight points on 3-5 shooting (2-4 from three) in just 37 seconds against rookie Payton Pritchard.
• In their April 19 meeting, Jayson Tatum recorded his first career triple-double (14 pts, 13 reb, 10 ast) in the loss, but shot just 3-17 from the field. Garrett Temple was the primary defender on Tatum for a team-high 7:56 (65.7% of Tatum’s offensive matchup time) and held him scoreless on 0-8 shooting from the field and 0-3 from 3-point range. That majority of Tatum’s points came while being defended by former teammate Daniel Theis; Tatum drew three shooting fouls against Theis and shot 6-6 from the free throw line.
• Jaylen Brown has averaged a team-best 24.5 points on 55.6% shooting from the field and 71.4% (5-7) from 3-point range in two games against Chicago this season, but is expected to miss Friday’s game. Jayson Tatum has averaged 19 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists. Among Bulls that appeared in both games against Boston, Thaddeus Young (14.5 ppg) and Lauri Markkanen (13.5 ppg) led the Chicago offense.
• No player this season has made more shots in the final 10 seconds of a one-possession game (score margin within three points) than Jayson Tatum. He is shooting 5-9 from the field in those situations, including 4-8 when the Celtics are trailing or tied. Tatum ranks fifth overall in clutch scoring with 120 points in 130 clutch minutes this season.
• The Bulls average 50 points in the paint per game (7th in NBA), accounting for 45.2% of Chicago’s total offense. However, the Celtics allow only 44.4 points in the paint per game (5th in NBA for fewest allowed). Boston allows the second-fewest shots inside the restricted area (22.7 per game) and the fifth-fewest shots from the rest of the paint outside the restricted area (17.5 per game).
Lakers (37-29) at Blazers (37-29)
10 p.m. ET, ESPN
• The No. 6 Lakers and No. 7 Blazers enter Friday’s game with matching 37-29 records, with the Lakers holding tiebreaker by virtue of having a better conference record. With the season series tied at 1-1, the winner of this game will own the head-to-head tiebreaker for playoff and play-in seeding. If the season ended prior to this game, the Lakers would be guaranteed a playoff berth, while the Blazers would participate in the Play-In Tournament for the second consecutive season.
• The Lakers are coming off a 118-94 loss to the Clippers on Thursday in a game that LeBron James and Dennis Schroder missed, and Anthony Davis exited in the first quarter and never returned due to back spasms. LeBron (28.5 ppg) and Schroder (23 ppg) are expected to miss Friday’s game – they are L.A.’s top two scorers against the Blazers this season – while Davis’ status remains unknown at this time.
• Damian Lillard has averaged 33.0 points on 52.5% shooting from the field, 43.5% from 3-point range and 100% from the free throw line in two games against the Lakers this season. Lillard ranks third in the NBA with 30 games with 30 or more points this season – two of those games have come against the Lakers.
• Dennis Schroder was the primary defender on Damian Lillard for a team-high 11:49 of matchup time over the first two meetings; Lillard scored 28 points on 9-15 shooting from the field, 4-8 from 3-point range and 6-6 from the free throw line during the matchup. With Schroder out, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will likely get the assignment of checking Lillard; he ranks second on the Lakers with 4:47 of matchup time with Lillard this season and fared well. Caldwell-Pope allowed Lillard only three points on 1-6 shooting from the fieldm including 1-5 from 3-point range.
• While the Lakers have dealt with injuries to their leading scorers, they have been able to maintain the top-ranked defense in the NBA, allowing only 106.7 points per 100 possessions on the season, and 108.1 since LeBron James’ ankle injury on March 20. The shorthanded Lakers’ defense will be tested on Friday as they face a Blazers team with the third-ranked offense in the league – 116.7 points per 100 possessions on the season and a league-best 118.2 since the All-Star break.