After beating the 76ers by 19 points last night, the OKC Thunder will now head to Chicago to take on the Bulls. We’ll preview the game before getting into how I’ll be betting on it.
After going on a solid stretch, the Bulls have now lost two games in a row and have fallen four games below .500. On January 7th, Chicago scored 126 points for their second game in a row, but they have now followed that up with two straight games where they have failed to score 100 points.
In the last ten games, the Bulls' offensive efficiency rating ranks 11th in the league, but in the previous two games, their rating has them ranked 29th in the NBA. It has just been that kind of season for Chicago, where every time they look to be turning the corner, they come out and look lost for a few-game stretch.
Defensively in their past ten games, the Bulls have been a middle-of-the-pack team, with a defensive efficiency rating of 115.1; they are ranked 17th in the league in that span. They will be challenged on that end of the floor tonight as their opponent tonight is sixth in offensive efficiency rating in that same ten-game span.
Since January 3rd, when the Thunder scored 150 points on the Celtics, their offense has looked like one of the best in the league. Over the past five games, leading scorer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has only scored below 30 points once, while rookie Jalen Williams has also looked like a steal from the draft, averaging 13.7 points per game over the last ten games.
To put into perspective how solid their offense has been recently, the Thunder are one of only two teams ranked in the Top-10 in NET rating with only five wins in the last ten games. Their 5.2 NET rating has them ranked higher than the Heat and Pacers, who have gone 7-3 in the previous ten games.
The point total for this game is currently set at 234.5, and I’ll be taking the over as my best bet. The over has gone 7-2 in the last nine meetings between these teams, and the over is also 6–0 in the Thunder’s previous six games.
This season when the Thunder scored 100 points in their previous game or allowed 100 points in the last game, the over is a combined 8-0. With the Thunder being on the second night of a back-to-back and coming off scoring 133 points and allowing 114, I think their defense could let the Bulls get back on track offensively.
On the defensive end, the Bulls are ranked 14th in opponent points in the paint and recently allowed the Wizards to score 54 points in the paint in their last game. OKC is ranked third in the league in paint scoring this season, and they should be able to find continued success tonight.