Bulls vs. Pelicans Betting Preview: Back Chicago to Rebound?

The Chicago Bulls meet the New Orleans Pelicans in an NBA matchup on Wednesday, Nov. 16 in Chicago. Kenny Ducey breaks down how to bet the game below.

Bulls vs. Pelicans Odds

Bulls Odds +4
Pelicans Odds -4
Over/Under 226.5
Time 8 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Chicago Bulls will play the New Orleans Pelicans for the second time in a week on Wednesday night, and after failing to take care of New Orleans at home, the Chicago needs to pull it out on the road if it wants to end this treacherous slide.

Will anything be different this time around, or can we expect New Orleans to remain dominant? Let’s take a look at the numbers below.

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Bulls Struggling Right Now

The Bulls are not having a very good time out there. They’ve lost four of their last five and now sit 6-8, going 7-7 against the spread. Chicago has now been an underdog in all but three of its 14 games, and after getting two points at home against the Pelicans are now catching four in New Orleans.

The Bulls really have no good excuse, either. As it stands, they’re seventh in Defensive Rating and perfectly healthy, with the exception of some lingering injuries to Lonzo Ball and Coby White (they were able to withstand both of those guys being out last year anyway).

There is simply no imagination on the offensive side of the ball; Chicago is 16th in Assist Rate and coupling that with some very bad shooting, hitting at just 36% thus far.

I’d say most troubling of all here is the fact that the Bulls are ranked seventh-worst in field goal percentage inside of 10 feet. That’s an indictment on Nikola Vucevic, with whom the Bulls are five points worse per 100 possessions on offense this season.

It doesn’t help matters that the defense has seen an improvement of 10.3 points per 100 possessions in the non-Vucevic minutes, but given the state of the defense I think we need to focus on this team’s inability to score inside of the three-point arc.

Pelicans Need to Control Inside

The Pelicans enter this one fresh off an inspired 113-102 home win over the Grizzlies on Tuesday night. That means this will be the second back-to-back of the season for New Orleans, which previously lost by three to Atlanta on no rest as two-point underdogs. Since Willie Green took over, the Pelicans are now 7-10 against the spread on no rest, with an average margin of -3.6.

Another area which is a cause for concern here is the interior defense of New Orleans. Now, we did just address the fact that Chicago has been unable to score effectively inside, but the Pelicans do rank third-worst in defended field goal percentage inside of 10 feet this year and in general have allowed 56.7% shooting on two-point looks, good for fourth-worst in the NBA.

The Pelicans do have the eighth-best defense in the league, thanks in part to their fourth-ranked three-point defense. It’s no fluke, either, considering they rank fourth in contested looks from three as well.

Offensively, you won’t meet a team which loves shooting the ball inside of 10 feet more than New Orleans, which ranks second in shot frequency in that zone, but it is hitting on just 47.2% of looks down there.

Zion Williamson can help with all of this. The issue is that we’re not really sure if he’s going to play. Green did say that “there’s hope” Williamson plays on Wednesday after picking up a foot contusion against the Rockets on Saturday, so given those comments and the fact that this isn’t a significant injury, we will assume Williamson will play.

Bulls-Pelicans Pick

Is this finally the time to get right for the Bulls? I think this matchup really suits what they want to do out there. New Orleans has been horrific at defending inside, and the Bulls have opted for looks closer to the basket all season long. Chicago is just 28th in three-point attempts per game so the strength of the Pelicans really means little here.

I’m a little concerned that a fresh Williamson, coupled with a huge win on Tuesday, could give the Pelicans a shot in the arm for this back-to-back. The fact of the matter is that they’ve been pretty bad in these scenarios dating back to last season and will likely have their hands full defending Vucevic and the Bulls’ stable of slashers.

I’m going to take the points here and am good with the Bulls up to a PK.

Pick: Bulls +4 (-107)