After both teams were able to pick up wins on Saturday night, the Bulls and Celtics will meet matchup tonight in Boston. We’ll preview the game before reviewing which side I’ll be backing in this one.
Getting a read on this Chicago Bulls team has been a challenging thing to do this season. At a certain point in the season, it seemed as if it was time for the Bulls to trade their key pieces for picks and start a rebuild, but now after going 7-3 in their last ten games, they look like a team that could fight for a playoff spot.
Offensively this team has been clicking on all cylinders and, over the last ten games, has put up the fourth-best offensive efficiency in the NBA at 119.2. They are also fourth in effective field goal percentage (57.5%) and true shooting percentage (61.2%), which explains how they’ve managed to score 121 points or more in their last four games.
Zach Lavine has averaged 27.5 points per game over their last ten games and is a big reason why Chicago is now in the midst of their best stretch of the season. It certainly is not their defense that has made them successful recently, as the Bulls' 116.5 defensive efficiency rating is ranked 22nd in the league over the past ten games.
The Bulls' opponent tonight has been the exact opposite, as the Celtics' 111.1 defensive efficiency rating ranks fourth in the NBA in that same ten-game stretch. Boston has gone 6-4 in their last ten games and has won two straight entering tonight, including a win in which they held the Mavericks to just 95 points.
Boston has succeeded on the offensive end but at a different level than Chicago. The Celtics rank 15th in offensive efficiency rating and 19th in effective field goal percentage. Despite those numbers, the duo of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum has continued to carry the offense and pace them in scoring.
The Chicago Bulls are currently listed as +8.5 point underdogs, and I’ll be backing them tonight. Not only have the Bulls gone 7-3 straight up, but they have also gone 7-2-1 ATS in that span and 4-0 ATS the last four times these teams have met in Boston.
Despite going 3-2 in their last five games, the Celtics are 1-4 ATS in their previous five, and with the way Zach Lavine and this offense are playing, I think they will be in the game from start to finish. On Saturday night, Boston allowed the San Antonio Spurs to score 116 points, and the Bulls follow a similar offensive gameplan as the Spurs, which is a large percentage of their points come from two-point attempts.
Defensively the Bulls have done an excellent job of late limiting their opponents' fast break points, which is an area of scoring the Celtics thrive in. This season the Celtics rank 10th in the league in fast break points per game, and over the last ten games, the Bulls have held opponents to 10.5 fast break points per game, the fifth-best average in the league.
I think Chicago will continue their recent impressive play tonight and cover a number that overvalues the Celtics a bit too much.
Chicago Bulls (+8.5)