Chicago Bulls (14-8) at New York Knicks (11-10), 7:30 p.m. ET, NBA TV
• The Bulls enter Thursday ranked eighth in the NBA in offensive efficiency (110.0) and sixth in defensive efficiency (105.4). They are one of four teams in the league to rank in the top eight in both categories – and the only team from the Eastern Conference to do so. The others are: Phoenix (18-3), Golden State (18-3) and Utah (14-7).
• Alex Caruso leads the league in steals, averaging 2.2 per game, which is double his season average of 1.1 the past two years with the Lakers. The Bulls have the sixth best defense in the league, only allowing 105.4 points per 100 possessions. Chicago forces 15.6 turnovers per game (eighth for most in the league), converting those into 19.5 points per game (fourth in the league).
• Chicago leads the NBA in mid-range field goal attempts (17.3 per game) and percentage of points scored from mid-range (13.8%). DeMar DeRozan accounts for 45.1% of Chicago’s mid-range attempts; his 78 mid-range field goals made leads the NBA.
• Chicago’s DeMar DeRozan (4.4) and New York’s Julius Randle (4.3) rank sixth and eighth, respectively, in points per game on isolation plays, per Synergy play type data. DeRozan’s 60.9% field goal percentage on isolation plays ranks fourth in the league – and first among players that average more than one iso field goal attempt per game.
• Alec Burks is averaging 0.61 points per minute as a starter, versus his average 0.46 points per minute coming off the bench. Burks’ offensive efficiency is about the same as a starter (107.8) as it as when he’s coming off the bench (107.3); however, his defensive efficiency was worse in the two games he started, up from 101.8 to 114.5. The Knicks’ bench continues to post a positive +/- (3.9 on the season), while their starting lineup remains negative (-3.8 for the season).
San Antonio Spurs (6-13) at Portland Trail Blazers (11-11), 10:00 p.m. ET, NBA TV
• The Blazers announced that Damian Lillard will miss at least 10 days due to an abdominal injury. Portland is 1-1 without Lillard in the lineup so far this season (they went 3-2 without him last season and 2-6 the year prior). In the two games Lillard has missed this season, CJ McCollum has averaged 24.5 points on 41.9% shooting from the field and 42.9% from 3-point range, while Anfernee Simons (starting in place of Lillard) has averaged 14.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists in 31.6 minutes.
• CJ McCollum is third for most 3-pointers made so far this season, averaging 3.3 per game. McCollum makes an average 4.0 per home game (on 43.1% shooting) and only 2.5 on the road (35.4%). Portland is 10-1 at home and 1-10 on the road.
• San Antonio ranks second in assists (27.4), third in points created by assists (68.2) and percentage of made field goals that are assisted (63.6%), in addition to ranking 10th in passes per game (288.5). The Spurs are also tied for the second highest assist to pass percentage, meaning that 9.5% of their passes are assists. This is largely thanks to Dejounte Murray averaging a career- and team-high 8.1 assists per game. He’s had nine double-doubles so far this season, including three triple-doubles through just 19 games (compared to his 13 and 4 through 67 games last year).
• The Spurs lead the NBA in points in the paint (54.1 ppg) so far this season; they are the only team in the league that has points in the paint account for more than half of their total points (50.5%). Jakob Poeltl (11.5 ppg) leads the Spurs in points in the paint, but ranks 13th in the league. The Spurs have five players averaging at least five points in the paint with Dejounte Murray (8.5), Keldon Johnson (8.3), Thaddeus Young (6.8) and Derrick White (5.1) joining Poeltl.
• The Spurs rank in the top 10 in nine of the 12 tracked hustle stats: fifth in screen assists and screen assist points with 11.4 and 24.8, respectively; eighth in deflections with 15.4; eighth in defensive loose balls recovered with 3.1; fourth in percentage of defensive loose balls recovered with 54.1%; third in charges drawn with 0.89; seventh in contested 2PT shots with 32.3; eighth in contested 3PT shots with 21.4; and sixth in total contested shots with 53.7.