Nets vs. Bulls Wednesday NBA injury report, spread, odds: James Harden, Kyrie Irving questionable, LaMarcus Aldridge out for possible playoff preview

The Nets are listing both Kyrie Irving and James Harden as questionable for Wednesday in Chicago.
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While the Brooklyn Nets remain +130 favorites at Caesars Sportsbook to win the Eastern Conference, it's time to address the reality that the Chicago Bulls could finish with the East's best record and are a legitimate threat to the Nets despite being +1000 long shots in the conference. The Bulls go for the regular-season sweep of Brooklyn on Wednesday night and may not have to deal with either Kyrie Irving or James Harden and for sure won't LaMarcus Aldridge. It's an unusual 10 p.m. ET tip in Chicago because it's an ESPN game. Click here for model picks. 

Of course, Irving is only allowed to play in Nets road games – except for at the Knicks, Raptors and Warriors – because of COVID mandates and the fact he's not vaccinated. In the two games Irving has played this season, he hasn't really missed a beat in averaging 22.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists and the Nets are 1-1 in those games, winning at Indiana on Jan. 5 but upset in Portland on Monday, 114-108.

Irving tweaked his ankle at the end of Monday's loss but downplayed it afterward. However, he's listed as questionable for Wednesday. Harden missed Monday's game with a hyperextended left knee and Coach Steve Nash had said Harden wasn't expected to miss an extended period – although he did have an MRI. It is important to note that Wednesday is the front end of a back-to-back with the Nets hosting the Thunder on Thursday, meaning Irving can't play in that one.

Center Nicolas Claxton is questionable Wednesday as well. He entered Monday averaging 13.6 points on 70.6 percent shooting, with 6.7 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and a steal per game over the Nets' previous 11 but was limited to 13 minutes vs. the Blazers due to foul trouble and then hamstring tightness. Aldridge (13.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg) is out.

Chicago is pretty healthy other than Alex Caruso, who has been out since Dec. 20 in the COVID protocols. He must have tested positive and had symptoms or he would have been back by now.

Wednesday is the second of a back-to-back for the Bulls as they crushed the visiting Pistons 133-87 on Tuesday. Chicago is 4-2 in the second of a B2B this season and has won three straight.

Should the Nets and Bulls finish tied in the Eastern Conference at the end of the regular season, Chicago would win the playoff tiebreaker because it leads the season series 2-0 and this is the finale. The Bulls won 118-95 at home on Nov. 8 and 111-107 in Brooklyn on Dec. 4.

Obviously, Irving didn't play in either. Kevin Durant is averaging 33.0 points in the two games and Harden 14.0 points, 9.5 assists and 7.5 rebounds. Chicago's DeMar DeRozan is averaging 28.5 points in the season series and Zach LaVine 27.5.

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