Bulls vs. Lakers: Take the Points With This Underdog

Action Network contributor Chris Baker previews the Bulls vs. Lakers matchup on Sunday in the NBA and reveals which side he's betting.

Bulls vs. Lakers Odds

Bulls Odds +3.5
Lakers Odds -3.5
Over/Under 222.5
Time 3:30 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Chicago Bulls will look to stay hot in Los Angeles today as they continue their push for the playoffs.

Can the Lakers fend off this hot bulls team and continue their own playoff push, or will Patrick Beverley earn some revenge in LA tonight? Let’s break down how these two teams match up.

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Chicago Bulls

Chicago has gone 9-5 since acquiring Patrick Beverley, ranking fifth in net-rating (+6.0), and third in defensive rating (111.4) over that 14-game stretch. It’s been a slam-dunk signing and completely changed Chicago’s playoff hopes. The Bulls are just one game back of the Atlanta Hawks for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference seed. Every game is massive for this team going forward, so don’t expect motivation to be an issue.

One of my favorite storylines of the Bulls during their post-deadline stretch has been the emergence of the Patrick Beverley-Alex Caruso tandem. The Bulls have been elite when these two guys share the floor. Across 419 possessions, the Bulls have a +14.8 net-rating and a defensive rating of 102.9 with Pat Bev and Caruso on the floor. That defensive rating would make them the best defense in the NBA by a full seven points.

Caruso is cleared to play for this one after carrying a questionable designation heading into their Friday night game against the Blazers. DeMar DeRozan rested against the Blazers, so I like his chances of getting back in the lineup tonight.

Overall, the Bulls should have their full arsenal available given that they all played minimal minutes against the Blazers due to it being a blowout. Expect Chicago to be prepared for this pivotal game.

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers have won three straight games and now have slotted themselves into the eighth seed after a great win over OKC on Friday night. LeBron James is likely still out for this one, but I would anticipate D’Angelo Russell returning after he sat-out on Friday.

Russell would be a huge boost to the Lakers as his presence on the floor has been decidedly positive since being dealt at the deadline. The Lakers have a +10.6 net-rating with Russell on the floor this season. With him off the floor, they have a -1.5 net-rating. His status is obviously quite important here, given the massive difference.

Russell is especially important in this matchup as the Lakers will need a competent ball-handler against the swarming defense of Caruso and Beverley. I would avoid any bets on the Lakers until we learn more about Russell’s status.

The other major story for Los Angeles has been the emergence of Austin Reaves, who has been a decidedly positive force for this team all season with a +5.8 net-rating swing. Over his last five games, Reaves is averaging 22.2 points per game and seven assists on 50% shooting. His ability to handle the ball will also be huge against Chicago’s stout perimeter defense.

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Bulls-Lakers Pick

Chicago has too much continuity for me to fade them here in a must-win game. The Bulls may be underrated since they have played the eighth-most difficult schedule of opponents this season according to Dunks and Threes.

The Lakers have been impressive as of late but I don’t think they have as many answers on offense as the Bulls do.

This spread opened at Bulls +4.5 but moved down quickly. I’ld play it at Bulls +3.5. Be sure to use our live odds page to get the best available number. BetMGM and FanDuel were still posting +3.5 as of 10 a.m. ET.

Pick: Bulls +3.5