Bulls vs. Trail Blazers Preview: Trends Point to Value on Over/Under

Action Network contributor Tyler Schmidt breaks down the betting value of the NBA matchup on Wednesday night between the Chicago Bulls and Portland Trail Blazers.

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Bulls vs. Trail Blazers Odds

Bulls Odds +2.5
Trail Blazers Odds -2.5
Over/Under 221.5
Time 10 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

It is not every day that you get to see two of the NBA’s best guard duos going up against each other.

Bulls pair DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine are the best scoring duo in the league right now, while Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum have been doing this for a long time. This is their ninth year playing together, which is rare to see in the modern NBA.

This non-conference clash should be a fantastic game. It’s a little surprising that the Trail Blazers are favored in this game, but they have a 6-1 home record despite being only 7-8 this season.

Let’s dive in and see where we can find some value.

Bulls Thriving Without Starting Center

The Bulls are coming off of back-to-back wins in Los Angeles against the Clippers and Lakers, which improved them to 5-2 on the road this season, with a win over the Celtics also on their resume.

Probably the most impressive fact about the Bulls is they have won their last two games without Nikola Vucevic, who will miss this one, as well. Without Vucevic on the floor, the Bulls have increased their Pace from 97.52 to 100, although they did just play three of the top-six teams in that category this season in the Warriors, Lakers and Clippers. The under still hit in two out of those three. Chicago is 5-1 against the Western Conference, as well.

As underdogs this season, the Bulls have covered four of six games with the under hitting in five of those six games. They’ve also covered in five of their seven road games this season.

Since Alex Caruso has moved into the starting lineup in place of Vucevic, he has played an average of 36.5 minutes per game. Lonzo Ball, DeRozan and LaVine have all played at least 34 minutes in those last two games, as well. Head coach Billy Donovan is rotating the fifth position on the floor with a plethora of players including Tony Bradley, Derrick Jones Jr., Javonte Green and Ayo Dosunmu.

DeRozan and LaVine are the best scoring duo in the league this season. Both are averaging more than 35 minutes and 18 field goal attempts per game, with DeRozan scoring 26.9 points per game and LaVine 25.9. LaVine does most of his damage from downtown by attempting 7.0 3-pointers per game compared to just 2.5 for DeRozan.

Blazers Love Their Home Cooking

After an unsuccessful 1-3 road trip, the Blazers returned home with a 118-113 win over the Raptors on Monday. Portland is now 6-1 at home this season with its only loss being in the season opener against the Kings, who won by three points after holding off the Blazers’ fourth-quarter comeback.

Despite having a 7-8 record, the Trail Blazers have been favorites in 11 of their 15 games this season, covering in just six of those 11 with the under hitting seven times.

Portland ranks 24th in Defensive Rating this season, but it’s a different animal at home. The Blazers have a Defensive Rating of 104.7 at home compared to 118.2 on the road. The Portland offense has also thrived at Moda Center, with a home Offensive Rating of 117.5 compared to 106.6 on the road.

After missing action against the Denver Nuggets two games ago due to injury, Lillard returned against Toronto on Monday. He’s shooting the ball much better of late after a rough start to the season. Lillard has shot over 47% from the field in four out of his last five games. During that time, Lillard has averaged 3.6 made 3-pointers per game. He has also played over 38 minutes in four of those five games and is scoring 24.8 points per game.

While Lillard is making his way back into form, McCollum continues to do his thing. He still leads the Trail Blazers in points this season scoring 21.3 per game while showing the most drastic home vs. road splits.

This season at home, McCollum has averaged 24.3 points per game while shooting 47% from the field and 44.1% from 3-point range. On the road, those numbers are 19.4 points with a 39.9% mark from the field and 35.5% from downtown. McCollum must love those Moda Center rims.

The Bulls rank fifth in Defensive Rating this season and have allowed opponents to score just 102.7 points per game. Even without Vucevic, Chicago has actually increased its Defensive Rating over the last three games. This will be a tall test for this Trail Blazers team since the Bulls match up very well with them.

Bulls-Trail Blazers Pick

After back-to-back big road victories in Los Angeles, I am a little worried the Bulls could look lethargic in this matchup. I originally was surprised when I saw this line come out, but the more I dove into this game, the more it made sense to me. This is Chicago’s fourth straight road game after all.

One thing I found intriguing was how often the under hit when the Bulls are underdogs. It may be a small sample size with only six games, but an 83% rate is pretty high. Meanwhile, when the Blazers are favorites, the under is hitting at a 64% clip in 11 games.

Both teams should rely on their defenses in this matchup. There will be many accomplished scorers on the floor, but also some great two-way players, especially on the Bulls team. Caruso and Ball both rank in the top 10 in steals this season, combining for 3.4 per game. They could definitely give Lillard and McCollum some issues tonight.

Picking the Bulls in this matchup was intriguing, but ultimately I will take the under. As of Tuesday night, BetMGM had the highest total on the board at 221.5. I would feel comfortable taking this line down to 220.

Pick: Under 221.5 (play to 220)