76ers vs. Bulls Betting Preview: Bet the Home Underdog

Action Network contributor Chris Baker previews how to bet Saturday's matchup between the 76ers and Bulls.

76ers vs. Bulls Odds

76ers Odds -1.5
Bulls Odds +1.5
Over/Under 221
Time 8 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Philadelphia 76ers will travel to Chicago to face the Bulls on a the second leg of a back-to-back Saturday. The Bulls also played last night — on the road in San Antonio no less — so it will be interesting to see which team is more fatigued.

Let’s break down how these two teams have fared to start the 2022-2023 season.

76ers Are Searching for Answers on Defense

The 76ers finally got back on track last night against the Toronto Raptors with Joel Embiid out of the lineup. They were able to defeat a healthy Raptors team by 22 behind Tyrese Maxey’s 44-point eruption. Overall, they have begun the season 2-4 ranking 10th in Adjusted Net Rating per Dunks And Threes.

Their big issue has been their defense which ranks 20th in Adjusted Defensive Rating and dead-last in transition points per 100. They are allowing 7.5 points per 100 in transition, 2.0 points higher than the next closest team.

This team is just not doing a good job of sprinting back and setting their defense and this issue could certainly exacerbate given this is their fourth game in six days and the second night of a back to back. This issue could be excused if Philly was doing a great job crashing the boards and earning second chance opportunities but they currently rank 30th in offensive rebound rate as well.

If they aren’t crashing the boards and earning extra shots then there is no reason they should rank dead-last in transition defense. They allowed virtually nothing in transition last night without Embiid so it will be interesting to how they perform if he plays tonight.

Bulls Bench Needs to Nullify Size Disadvantage

The Bulls have gotten off to a 3-3 start ranking 12th in Adjusted Net Rating. They have missed Zach LaVine for half of their games including their rough loss to San Antonio last night so I am not putting too much stock into their weaker start.

Their defense was an issue last season but it has been much better this year as they currently rank 10th in Adjusted Defensive Rating. They have allowed the 24th highest rate of 3-point attempts in the NBA but they have traditionally struggled to defend the rim/paint with Vucevic at center. They rank 12th in rim frequency this season, but they ranked dead-last in season allowing 39.6% of opponent shot attempts at the rim.

This could potentially be an issue vs an Embiid-led Philly team. The Bulls did sign Andre Drummond away from Philly in the offseason to address this issue so it will be interesting to see if he can have that immediate impact tonight.

76ers-Bulls Pick

With both of these teams on a back-to-back I am inclined to support the home team as a short-dog given that they are pretty much on par with each other in terms of net rating.

The 76ers should have a matchup advantage with Embiid vs. Vucevic, but I think Vucevic is a good enough shooter to stretch this defense out and present some issues for Embiid on the other end as well.

As mentioned before, the addition of Drummond should be huge for this game. It’s very difficult to shut down Harden and Maxey on the perimeter but I believe in Alex Caruso as a defender to at least contain these guys in stretches.

The Chicago season-long numbers are slightly flawed due to the absence of LaVine and I think that they can expose some of Philly’s transition issues with him likely back in the lineup tonight. Take the Bulls to win at home versus a fatigued Philadelphia team on Saturday night.

Pick: Bulls Moneyline (+110)