Bulls vs. Knicks: Back New-Look New York

Joe Dellera breaks down his expert NBA pick and predictions for Bulls vs. Knicks on Wednesday, January 3.

Bulls vs. Knicks Odds

Bulls Odds +8
Knicks Odds -8
Moneyline +270 / -340
Over/Under 220.5
Time Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The New York Knicks host the Chicago Bulls, who just had their doors blown off by the Philadelphia 76ers last night. Can the Knicks build on their New Year’s Day victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, or will the Bulls bounce back?

Let’s get to our Bulls vs. Knicks prediction and pick.

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Bulls Defensive Regression Looming

The Chicago Bulls are playing their second game in as many days before heading back home to Chicago. The Bulls have a lengthy injury report, they are without Nikola Vucevic (groin), and Zach LaVine (foot) is nearing a return — but Friday seems more likely.

Both Coby White (ankle) and Patrick Williams (ankle) should be monitored because they both left the game on Tuesday night with injuries. If those ankles swell, they could miss this matchup or be less effective.

The Bulls have struggled this season as they are just 15-20 but have the 23rd-ranked Adjusted Net Rating (-2.0), per Dunks and Threes. They’ve struggled on offense throughout the season, and even over the last two weeks, they have an Offensive Rating of just 111.9, which ranks 27th over this span, per Cleaning the Glass.

The one surprise for the Bulls is that their Defense has been the league’s best over the last two weeks with a Defensive Rating of 109.8, per Cleaning the Glass.

However, their defensive success is a bit unsustainable. Over these two weeks, they have the third-worst Expected eFG% Allowed (56%) compared to the fifth-best Actual Allowed eFG% (52.6%). The major difference is their opponents are shooting just 32.8% from 3 compared to their full-season number of 37.1%, with an Allowed eFG% of 55.5%, per Cleaning the Glass. Furthermore, opponents have shot a league-best 45.5% from the corner.

Knicks Boosted by Anunoby

The Knicks made a splash when they acquired OG Anunoby, Precious Achiuwa and Malachi Flynn for Immanuel Quickley, RJ Barrett and a second-round pick on Saturday. I gave more extensive thoughts on the trade along with Brandon Anderson here, and I also discussed some of the Player Prop implications in my Player Props Forecast.

The Knicks are 18-15 and have been one of the league’s better and more consistent teams. They have a +2.6 Adjusted Net Rating, and while their offense has been among the top 10 in the league, their defense has fallen off without Mitchell Robinson.

However, that defense should improve significantly with Anunoby. One of the biggest swings from this trade will be that Barrett, the Knicks’ worst starter in Net Rating (-7.8) will no longer be eating 30+ minutes a game, and those minutes will go directly to Anunoby, who played 35 minutes in his debut.

I’m potentially waiting to target a same-game parlay of Anunoby 2+ Made 3s and Jalen Brunson to record at least five or six assists. I expect Brunson’s Assist Rate to skyrocket without Barrett, and Anunoby should find some quality looks from the corner against Chicago, a spot where he shoots nearly 45%.

Bulls vs. Knicks Prediction

The Knicks are feeling confident as they incorporate Anunoby into their rotation while the Bulls have to travel from Philadelphia after a brutal loss to the 76ers. Couple that with some potential injuries, and this is not an ideal matchup for the Bulls.

When the Knicks have played teams in the bottom 10 of Point Differential, they are 9-1 with a +16.4 Point Differential and are covering the spread by 7.3 points on average, per Cleaning the Glass.

This is a larger spread for the Knicks, but they are 10-6 ATS as a favorite this season, and I fully expect them to take care of business at home.

Pick: Knicks -8