Hawks vs. Bulls: Expect Chicago to Control the Pace

Action Network contributor Kenny Ducey previews how to bet Hawks vs. Bulls, including updated odds, picks & predictions for Tuesday's game.

Hawks vs. Bulls Odds

Hawks Odds +3.5
Bulls Odds -3.5
Over/Under 235
Time 8 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

We’re about done with the race to make the NBA Play-In Tournament in the Eastern Conference, but the Chicago Bulls still have some upward mobility in this race. One of their toughest tests down the stretch will come on Tuesday night when they meet the Atlanta Hawks, who sit eighth in the conference.

With so much at stake, we should be in store for a great game with an intoxicating atmosphere in Chicago. Let’s figure out what the best way to bet this one is in our Hawks vs. Bulls preview and prediction.

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Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks are sitting pretty comfortably in the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. It doesn’t seem likely they’ll make up the two games required on Miami to move up to the seventh seed, particularly when you consider the Heat own that tiebreaker, and even if the Nets were to fall into a tie with the Hawks in seventh, Brooklyn also owns the tiebreaker over Atlanta. The good news for the Hawks is that they will finish ahead of the Raptors if they manage to finish with the same record, as they would if the season ended today.

So, that probably puts them in the top (and better) half of the play-in tournament with two chances to clinch a spot. Still, they’ll need to at least match the Raptors’ record over the final four games, so you’d think that means a 2-2 split or better.

Atlanta is finishing the season on so-so note. Its offense ranks seventh in the league with 119.5 points per 199 possessions though its defense ranks just 27th during the same time. As a result, the Hawks are 5-5 over their last 10 and have to be fearful of seeing Philly and Boston on the calendar in the coming days. A win against Chicago is vital to locking up a 2-2 finish with the Wizards coming up next before the two behemoths.

Let’s also note here that Trae Young is currently dealing with a non-COVID illness and is listed as questionable. It’s anyone’s guess what this means, but I’ll drop a line about it in the interest of avoiding any surprises.

Chicago Bulls

The Bulls are virtually locked into the Play-In tournament. It would take them losing out, coupled with the Magic winning out, to crush their playoff dreams. While this one with the Hawks and tomorrow’s game against the Bucks will be tough, Chicago at least gets to finish the season out with the Mavericks and Pistons.

Now, the Bulls are just a game back of the Raptors and would be able to leapfrog them if they can finish the last four games with a record which is two games better than Toronto’s. That’s very doable considering Toronto has to face Boston twice and Milwaukee once to close out the season. So, there’s much to play for here when it comes to the Bulls.

The Bulls have been exceptional on defense in the last 10 games, allowing just 111 points per 100 possessions to rank fourth in the NBA during that time. They’ve had a consistent theme to their games, ranking second-to-last in Pace rating over that same span. Despite this, the Over has actually cashed in five of the last six Bulls games.

Hawks-Bulls Pick

The last time these two sides met, The under was set at 240 and cashed easily in a 111-100 final. Prior to that, the under 235.5 came in by a comfortable 17.5 points. The common theme there is that the Bulls won both of those games, controlling the tempo in each.

With Chicago entering with slightly more to play for, and as the home favorite, I do think it will emerge victorious here. The Hawks have been crummy on defense of late and the Bulls should be able to establish an early lead and slow this game to a crawl’s pace.

With that, I like the Under. It’s even more appealing if Young is limited at all due to his illness or misses this game altogether, but I feel good about the Bulls defense regardless. Both teams should bring a bunch of intensity which should create a playoff-like contest with plenty of defense.