Wizards vs. Bulls Preview: Washington Undervalued Without Bradley Beal

Andrew O'Connor-Watts previews Wednesday's NBA game between the Wizards and Bulls, including betting odds and a prediction.

Wizards vs. Bulls Odds

Wizards Odds +5.5
Bulls Odds -5.5
Over/Under 225.5
Time 8 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Wizards play the Bulls in Chicago on Wednesday in a rematch of a 102-100 victory for the Wizards from Oct. 21 of this year.

Bradley Beal will miss his sixth game of the season and is dangerously close to stealing Anthony Davis’s “street clothes” nickname if he keeps up the games missed (both players only played in 40 games last season).

The Bulls come home after six games on the road and will look to shake off a three-game losing streak that came at the hands of the Suns, Warriors and Kings.

The Wizards also look to shake a three-game losing streak of their own, dropping games to the Lakers, Hornets and Nets.

Can the Wizards make it 2-0 for the season series? Which team will turn the streak around? Let’s break it down.

>> Download The Action Network App to get real-time NBA odds, track your bets and follow all of our experts’ picks.

Wizards Shouldn’t Miss Beal

The Wizards will once again be without their All-Star guard and bag-getter Beal after he left three minutes into Sunday’s game against the Lakers with a hamstring strain.

Even with Beal out, I don’t think the Wizards should be concerned, as Beal’s impact hasn’t been a net-positive so far this season. Offensively, Beal has been just fine for the Wizards as he ranks in the 81st percentile in Points Per Possession, according to Cleaning the Glass.

However, his defensive deficiencies make him a net-negative. When Beal is on the court, Wizards opponents are +7.7 in terms of Points Per Possession, which ranks in the lowly 11th percentile among all players at his position. And he’s only seventh on the Wizards in Efficiency Differential at -2.6.

In front of Beal, and in first place for Washington, is Kyle Kuzma whose +15.6 Differential is in the 96th percentile for the league. Although usually thought of as an offensive player, the Wizards are -14.2 in Defensive Points Per Possession with Kuzma on the floor, which is in the 99th percentile of the league.

Kristaps Porzingis, Monte Morris and Corey Kispert round out the top four for the Wizards in Differential ahead of Beal — all of whom have positive Point Differentials

If the Wizards are going to beat the Bulls again, they will likely have to use their defense to get the job done. In games where the Wizards have a Defensive Points Per Possession of 107 or better, they are 8-0.

In Washington’s 102-100 victory over Chicago earlier this season, the Wizards Defensive Points Per Possession was 103.1.

Bulls Need To Win In Midrange

The argument for the Bulls in this matchup is that they’re being undervalued by the market due to their strength of schedule. Chicago is just 9-14 on the season, but have played the toughest schedule of any team in the NBA thus far.

The Wizards have faced about league average competition so far. When adjusting for schedules, the Bulls are 16th in Net Rating, according to Dunks and Threes, while the Wizards are just 22nd.

Chicago will look to get to the middle of the floor and score in the midrange with Nikola Vucevic and DeMar Derozan and they could potentially grab an advantage there against Washington.

The Bulls shoot the second-most shots in the midrange, behind only Atlanta, but the Wizards allow the fourth-most in the league from that area, while defending the rim and 3-point lines well.

Washington likes to funnel opponents to the middle of the floor, which is where the Bulls like to be and if any team can exploit that strategy, it’s the Bulls.

However, there’s a reason the Wizards give up those shots, and that’s because it’s the least-efficient area of the court. They’ll get killed there all day as long as they’re not giving up easy layups and 3-pointers.

But the Wizards aren’t getting killed there. They’re top 10 in defending the midrange, allowing opponents to shoot just 40.5% (ninth in the league) from the middle, while the Bulls also defend that area well at 41.4% (11th in the league).

Wizards-Bulls Pick

You could argue this is a get-right spot for the Bulls, who return home after a lengthy road trip in which they went 2-4 both straight up and against the spread. Chicago is at home, but this this is its seventh city in 14 days and I don’t like the spot for the Bulls despite a few days off to prepare for the game.

In their five games without Beal this season, the Wizards are 4-1 straight up and 5-0 against the spread. I like the Wizards to cover +5.5 on Wednesday.

I lean to the under here as I think a lot of this game will be played in the midrange and both teams defend well inside the arc, but I’d rather see how the game is played and live bet an under if the first half is trending over. The Bulls are 17-6 to the under in the fourth quarter and 1-9 at home, while the Wizards are 14-10 to the under and 4-7 on the road.

What is QuickSlip?

QuickSlip is an Action Network feature that allows users to automatically pre-load their bet slip at FanDuel Sportsbook.