Bulls vs. Celtics Preview: Is Boston Overvalued at Home?

Action Network NBA analyst Joe Dellera breaks down Monday's NBA game between the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics, including how he's betting the spread.

Bulls vs. Celtics Odds

Bulls Odds +2.5
Celtics Odds -2.5
Over/Under 215.5
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Chicago Bulls head to Boston to take on the Celtics in a clash of these two Eastern Conference teams with playoff aspirations. While the Bulls have started off hot and are winners of five of their first six, the Celtics have faltered out of the gate and won just two of their first six contests.

Will the Bulls continue their run to the top of the East or can the Celtics close in on a .500 record?

Can Bulls Sustain Great Defensive Play?

The Bulls just were hit with the devastating news that second-year forward Patrick Williams will undergo surgery to repair torn ligaments in his left wrist and is expected to miss four-to-six months as he recovers. While Williams was not a star, he played a key role in a fairly thin Bulls rotation. Expect to see more lineups with Alex Caruso and Javonte Green.

The Bulls’ offense is interesting because it relentlessly attacks the rim and takes midrange shots at one of the highest frequencies in the league (35.8%) while taking 3s at the lowest rate (28.3%), per Cleaning the Glass. But that does not mean that the Bulls aren’t able to capitalize on the perimeter. On those 3s, the Bulls shot 38.3% as a team, which is the sixth-best in the league.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Bulls have the fifth-best defensive rating (99.5) and have stifled their opponents. This is a bit surprising considering their personnel is not typically known for its defensive prowess (see Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic).

This may be a situation where the sum of its parts are greater than the individuals, but I’m not 100% convinced that this defense is not a house of cards. The Bulls have the seventh-best allowed eFG% (49.1%), but they have the worst expected allowed eFG% (53.0%). They may be due for some regression.

Celtics Offense Off to a Slow Start

The Celtics have struggled with health issues to start the season. Keep tabs on their injuries for tonight’s contest, but on Saturday’s game against the Wizards, Robert Williams and Marcus Smart both were unable to play.

The Celtics’ big struggles have been on the offensive side of the ball. While their defense is middling, they have the 20th-ranked offense and are scoring just 104.8 points per 100 possessions, per Cleaning the Glass. They are barely getting to the rim (29.1% of shots), and although they take 3s, they are not converting on those opportunities. As a result, the Celtics have the 21st-ranked eFG% in the league (50.3%), and there is not a great reason for them to improve considering their expected eFG% is just 51.4% which would also be below league average.

On defense, the Celtics have been unable to keep their opponents out of the paint. They’ve allowed 50.7 points in the paint per game, fourth-worst in the league. If Robert Williams is unable to play again tonight, they will be in even more trouble defending the paint.

Bulls-Celtics Pick

Although the Bulls have lost a key rotational piece, they’ve played incredibly well this season with their only loss coming after they made a ferocious comeback that the Knicks barely held off. The Celtics have struggled out of the gate, and with their offensive game plan and difficulty defending the paint, I think they’re a bit overvalued.

The Celtics are getting too much respect, and I think the wrong team is favored.

Pick: Bulls +2.5