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NBA News and Notes for February 18

With a chaotic trade deadline behind us and the All-Star game approaching, all eyes in the NBA are starting to shift towards divisional standings and playoff hopes.

Currently, the Milwaukee Bucks are the favorites to win the Eastern Conference at +260, while the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns are tied for the best odds of winning the West at +195.

In terms of winning the NBA Finals, the Warriors and Suns are once again tied for the best odds at +460, with the Bucks trailing both of them at +550.

With so much excitement around the NBA, let’s take a look at some of the biggest stories from the week.

Bulls Expect One Star Back, While Another Breaks A Record

At 38-21, good for first in the Eastern Conference, the Chicago Bulls have made quite the turnaround from years past as they have taken the East by storm. What is most impressive is that they have done this despite a plethora of injuries.

Zach LaVine, Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, and Patrick Williams have all been out with injuries, but the Bulls received good news about one of them.

LaVine met with a knee specialist this week and is expected to rejoin the Bulls after the All-Star break. He did have fluid drained from his knees, but after missing the last few games, he should be able to participate in some of the All-Star festivities and help the Bulls after the break.

This season, LaVine is averaging 24.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game.

With LaVine and others out, DeMar DeRozan has had to step up his game. On Wednesday, he proved just how exceptional his play has been as of late.

In a 125-118 win over the Sacramento Kings, DeRozan set a new NBA record for most consecutive games scoring 35 or more and shooting 50% or better from the field. It was his seventh straight game hitting those marks, passing Wilt Chamberlain for the longest streak.

This season, DeRozan is averaging 28.1 points on 51.7% shooting. He is also chipping in 5.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game.

Despite leading the East, the Bulls have the sixth-best odds of winning the conference (+1500) and tied for the eighth-best odds of winning the NBA Finals (+3000).

Tristan Thompson To Join Bulls

Sticking with Chicago, big man Tristan Thompson is expected to be waived by the Indiana Pacers, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Also, according to Charania, after being waived, Thompson is expected to sign with the Chicago Bulls.

Thompson was acquired in a deal with the Kings last week, instantly making him a buyout candidate. Between the two teams, Thompson has averaged 6.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game this season.

For Chicago, Thompson gives the team a defensive-minded big man to back up Nikola Vucevic, which is an area the team has struggled with this season.

Anthony Davis, Chris Paul Hurt

Wednesday night was not a good night for veteran stars as both Anthony Davis of the Lakers and Chris Paul of the Suns left their games with injuries.

For Davis, he injured his ankle against the Utah Jazz when he landed on Rudy Gobert’s heel. While x-rays came back negative, the expectation is that Davis will still be out for at least a couple of weeks with an ankle sprain, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.

Davis has averaged 23.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 2.9 assists for a struggling Lakers team.

At 27-31, the Lakers currently sit in ninth in the Western Conference Standings. Still, they have the fourth-best odds of winning the West at +1400.

For Paul, Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes reports that he will undergo an MRI after injuring his hand against the Houston Rockets Wednesday night.

After injuring his hand, Paul was ejected from the game after complaining to, and bumping, a ref. While a Paul injury would be devastating for the Suns, they do currently hold a 6.5-game lead in the conference with their 48-10 record.

This season, Paul is averaging a double-double with 14.9 points and 10.7 assists. He is also adding 4.5 rebounds per game.

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