It is a small four-game slate with most of the league preparing for the third round of in-season tournament matchups on Tuesday. Injuries and rest are a large factor in handicapping many NBA contests and this one is no exception as the Bulls head to a place they have not had much success, Fiserv Forum.
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Bulls vs. Bucks Betting Odds
Bulls vs. Bucks Best Bets
Bucks TT o119.5 (-105, FanDuel)
There have been bumps in the road at the beginning of the Damian Lillard-Giannis Antetokoumpo relationship on the court but tonight presents a prime opportunity to get right against a Bulls team that is being given credit defensively.
Chicago is on the second night of a back-to-back after beating the Pistons at home and while admittedly the drive up to Milwaukee is one of the easier trips on the NBA calendar, Chicago has shown no ability to handle a back-to-back this season. In two second nights of a back-to-back, the Bulls have lost by margin and allowed plenty of points in the process. 118 to the Detroit Pistons has to be graded on a curve and 123 to the Nuggets with plenty of garbage time mixed in. Add in that Alex Caruso is doubtful for the game and the Chicago defense does not have much of a leg to stand on.
Damian Lillard is probable and should be back for the Bucks tonight. Milwaukee scores 6.6 points more per game with Lillard in the lineup versus without. Missing their primary perimeter defender will also hurt the Bulls because of their lack of size, allowing Milwaukee more second opportunities on the offensive glass and other positive defenders to attempt. Losing a defensive player that is key to Chicago’s attempts to handle Lillard-Antetokoumpo actions while maintaining discipline on Khris Middleton on the other side could prove to be a fatal flaw as well.
The Bucks’ defense has not been what is was under Mike Budenholzer and allowing the Bulls to score in the game and keep it close means the Bucks should have to keep their foot on the gas for longer and keep this team total more than in range.
Risk: 1.05 units on FanDuel to win 1 unit.
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Another bet to keep in mind as the game progresses is the second half over. In their two games on the second night of a back-to-back, the Bulls have let go of the defensive rope, while still providing enough of their own offense. Against the Pistons in October, a 101-point first half was followed up by a 119-point second half, and against the Nuggets, a 104-point first half was accompanied by a 120-point second half.
Regardless of the rest, the Bulls are 20th in preventing points in the second half and Milwaukee is 24th. The Bucks also score the eighth-most points in the second half. Chicago has not shown to be the most high-effort team and that shows itself in spades when they are tired. If this game is out of hand early in the second half, that would give some pause because of the variance with backups in but in a reasonable game state, the over has legs.