After beating the Bulls at home last week, the Hornets will now head to Chicago looking to get back in the win column. We’ll preview the game before going over why I’ll be targeting a first-half bet in this one.
There have been mixed rumors coming out of Chicago regarding the trade deadline, as this team has not seemed to distinctively head in a positive or negative direction. It has been a less-than-ideal season for the Bulls, but there is no denying the roster is loaded with talent, so these next few games could play a significant factor in what the Bulls will look like after the trade deadline.
Chicago went 4-6 in their last ten games and managed a NET rating of 1.1 in that span, ranking 16th in the league. If it weren’t for the Bulls' defense, this team would’ve likely already declared themselves as sellers at the deadline, but their defensive efficiency rating was 3rd in the NBA over the previous ten games. In six of those games, Chicago held opponents to 109 points or less, but the Bulls still lost three of those games due to offensive inconsistency.
Interestingly enough, the Bulls and Hornets had the same offensive efficiency rating of 110.3 in the last ten games. However, Charlotte had a NET rating of -6.7 due to their defensive shortcomings in that span. Even with the Hornets struggling to keep teams under 120 points when these teams met a week ago, the Bulls only scored 96 points in the game. It was the first time Charlotte had held a team under 100 points since December 3rd.
That stat alone helps show the magnitude of both Chicago’s offensive inconsistency and Charlotte's defensive struggles. On the flip side, the Bulls' defense matches up well with the Hornets' offensive game plan. Chicago is 11th in the league this season in opponent’s points in the paint per game, which is where 51.7% of the Hornets' scoring has come from over the past ten games.
For my play in this one, I’ll be taking the Bulls' first-half spread of (-3). Chicago has gone 7-2-1 ATS in the first half of their last ten games, while Charlotte has gone 2-8 ATS in the first half over the same span.
The Hornets have typically gotten off to slow starts this season, as they rank 29th in first-quarter scoring, and defensively they rank 26th in first-quarter and 30th in second-quarter average points allowed. The last time these two teams met, the Hornets only scored 15 points in the second quarter and went into halftime down eight points despite winning the game.
Chicago has led by 4 points or more at halftime in their last five games and is ranked 12th in the NBA in both first-quarter points scored and points allowed. The Bulls have gone 2-3 in that span, but their most significant issues recently have come at the ends of games, so in efforts to avoid falling victim to another Chicago late-game collapse, I think the first half is the best play to make in this one.
Chicago Bulls 1H (-3)