Celtics vs. Bulls Odds
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
|Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
This Eastern Conference clash features two playoff teams who are going in opposite directions coming down the home stretch. The Boston Celtics continue to climb the standings, as the Chicago Bulls are barely clinging on.
This game means more to the Celtics who are in a three-way tie for the second seed in the conference. They currently have the tiebreaker over the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers, and play the Bucks Thursday night. First things first, handle the Bulls who have fallen to the sixth seed and are coasting to the playoffs as they are eliminated from getting a home playoff series.
Another thing to factor into this whole playoff seeding situation is trying to avoid the Brooklyn Nets. They are currently in eighth and could easily beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the play-in tournament for the seventh seed. Will the Celtics lose to get a better matchup against the Bulls or Toronto Raptors?
Jockeying for seeds to avoid the Nets will certainly be on the table. This is going to be an intriguing final week of the regular season. Let’s dive in!
Celtics Rolling Despite Key Absence
After a very slow start to their season, the Celtics have been arguably the best team over the last two months. They have won 24 of their last 29 games and have climbed to a share of second place in the East.
The Celtics have the best Defensive Rating in the league, allowing a league-best 104.3 points per 100 possessions. They also rank second in Net Rating as they lead the league in Offensive Rating since the All-Star break. The Celtics have split the season series with the Bulls thus far, making this the rubber match.
Losing Robert Williams for at least the rest of the regular season is a concern. He is averaging career-highs in nearly every statistical category, while leading the team in rebounds and blocks. Williams is second in the league in blocks with 2.2 per game. The Celtics have a record of just 9-9 with Williams out of the lineup.
Another Celtics player averaging a career-high in points, rebounds, and assists is Jayson Tatum who is averaging 31.1 points per game since the All-Star break, fifth-best in the league. He is shooting a very impressive 56.8% from the field 46.4% behind the arc in his last eight games.
The crazy thing is during that same eight-game stretch, Jaylen Brown is averaging 30.1 points per game while shooting 62.4% from the field and 56.5% from behind the arc. Using our On/Off Tool, Brown has the highest production and usage rate increase with Williams off the floor this season.
This matchup against the Bulls should suit the emerging Celtics offense very well. The Bulls rank 21st in Defensive Rating this season, allowing opponents to shoot 47.1% from the field, which ranks as the fifth-highest in the league. Can the Celtics take advantage even without Williams in the lineup?
Bulls Need Their Superstar Duo
With the Bulls struggling down the stretch, they are more than likely finishing either in the fifth or sixth seed in the East. They will need to travel on the road in the playoffs where they are 18-22 this season.
Playing at home has been very beneficial to the Bulls. They have a record of 27-12, however they just got obliterated by the Milwaukee Bucks 127-106 Tuesday. Zach LaVine was unable to play in that game as he sat for the second time since the All-Star break. His status tonight will be extremely important.
Losing out on 24.7 points per game is a big hit to the Bulls offense if LaVine is unable to play. This has been the fourth-straight season in which LaVine is averaging more than 23 points per game. This has also been his second-best season from a shooting perspective as he is shooting 47.7% from the field.
The Bulls still have DeMar DeRozan who is averaging a career-high 28 points per game while shooting 50.3% from the field. He has missed five games this season, which is impressive durability for a player who was on and off the injured list for the San Antonio Spurs.
One more piece on DeRozan. He went a stretch in February where he scored over 30 points in 10-straight games. Recently he may be getting back to that form as he has averaged 37 points per game over his last five games.
The Bulls defense has improved now that Alex Caruso and Patrick Williams are back, but they are still missing Lonzo Ball’s perimeter defense. The Bulls’ defense has a tough test against Tatum and Brown.
Lastly, maybe the key to this game is whether or not Nikola Vucevic can impose his will against the Celtics without Williams manning the paint. Vucevic is averaging a double-double for the fourth-straight season. His scoring has been a little down, but if LaVine is out, he will need to be aggressive tonight.
So much to dissect in this game, especially when it comes down to the whole seeding situation in the East. Seven points is a lot to cover for the Celtics on the first leg of a road back-to-back. Tatum and Brown are playing great lately, but there are many variables to this big conference game.
If LaVine can play, I’m going with the Bulls in this spot. If he can’t, I would take the under. A little different of a play, but that is the best way on how to attack this game.
I would bet this down to +5.5 if LaVine is playing. This spread is too big for the Celtics.
Pick: Bulls +6.5 (-110)