Hawks vs. Bulls Preview: Back Chicago as Heavy Home Favorites

Kenny Ducey breaks down Wednesday's Atlanta Hawks vs. Chicago Bulls matchup and shares his best bet.

Hawks vs. Bulls Odds

Hawks Odds +8
Bulls Odds -8
Over/Under 225
Time 8 p.m. ET
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

Still ravaged by COVID-19, the Atlanta Hawks will continue to try and make do when they meet the Chicago Bulls just two days after a tough double-digit loss at home. With much unchanged since then, should we expect a different result? Let’s take a look at the matchup.

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Hawks Looking for Consistency on Both Ends

It’s been a brutal four-game stretch for Atlanta, who has had to deal with absences to just about every key member on its team. Trae Young returned on Monday against the Bulls, but the likes of Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danilo Gallinari, Kevin Huerter, John Collins, Delon Wright and Onyeka Okongwu remain out — among others.

In the four games since the Hawks’ injury report grew in size, their offense has completely disappeared. They rank 23rd in points scored per 100 possessions over that span, and while they did post an offensive rating of 120.4 against Chicago on Monday, their defensive issues took a turn for the worst.

Atlanta allowed 132.7 points per 100 possessions to Chicago, its worst mark all season long. This was an already-flawed defense, which has been right around the league average all year, but over the last four games, its efficiency rating has ballooned to 114.3. That ranks 23rd in the NBA, and Atlanta is being outscored by 7.7 points per 100 possessions.

Young has long been known to be a defensive liability, and while his return may give this offense a bit of a lift, that has been more than canceled out by his play on the other end of the floor. This is a team which has won games all year long in spite of its defense, but this is a new low. It needs the above names healthy.

DeRozan and LaVine Keeping the Bulls In Rhythm

In a great juxtaposition, the last four games couldn’t be treating the Bulls any better. They own the league’s best offense during that time with an efficiency rating of 124.9, and they were able to hang 130 points on Atlanta in a game which they won by 12 points on the road.

DeMar DeRozen and Zach LaVine combined for 65 points against an incredibly weak backcourt defensively, consisting of Young and Bogdanovic. Now with Bogdanovic out, it could get even uglier with Chaundee Brown or Cam Reddish trying to guard this duo. Coby White also exists, though he was held to 13 points in that contest.

Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso remain out as of now due to COVID protocols, but it appears Chicago is set to get Derrick Jones Jr. back, which could create a size advantage on the wing and put Chicago in an even better place here. It’s also worth noting Chicago managed to post just a -1 in the rebounding differential in that game, which is pretty significant considering the only advantage the Hawks really have from a statistical standpoint is on the glass with Clint Capela.

Hawks-Bulls Pick

Atlanta is simply too weak to trust at the moment, and now that Bogdanovic is out, that becomes more true. Any offensive jolt the Hawks got from Young’s return will be gone with the departure of Bogdanovic, and nothing will change from a defensive standpoint.

It’s hard to lay this many points with a Bulls team which is down Ball and Caruso, but Atlanta is in a bad, bad place right now. It should have no way to score and mask the massive issues it’s having on the defensive end.

Pick: Bulls -8 (-110)