Boston Celtics vs Chicago Bulls

 

Image licensed from USA Today Sports

The Boston Celtics (9-6) are close to getting back to full health. This past week, the Celtics welcomed Kemba Walker back to the team after being sidelined with an injury. However, leading scorer Jayson Tatum is still out due to COVID, and his return date is unsure. He will be out once again tonight for the Bulls game. Prior to last night’s easy win over Cleveland, the Celtics had lost three games in a row, including a sweep by the 76ers.

Last night, the Celtics jumped out to a 22 point halftime lead, and cruised through the second half as they routed Cleveland 141-103. Jaylen Brown scored 33 points through three periods, while Kemba Walker scored 21. Marcus Smart dished out nine assists to go with his 12 points.

The Bulls (7-9) saw their three game win streak snapped in a 101-90 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers built a 63-33 halftime lead and never looked back. The Bulls, who shot 39% from the field and 32% from beyond the arc, were led by Zach LaVine with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Coby White added 14 points.

The Celtics lost Payton Pritcherd, their first guard off the bench, to a sprained knee in their second loss to the 76ers. He is expected to be out tonight with Jayson Tatum. The Bulls will be without Wendell Carter, Jr., who is dealing with a quad injury.

Walker’s Return Means Celtics Are Almost Healthy

When leading scorer Jayson Tatum returns from COVID protocol sometime in the next week, the Celtics will finally be at full strength after welcoming Kemba Walker back to the team last week. Walker’s return was a needed lift while Tatum was out, and last night’s victory over Cleveland was Walker’s best effort of the season. Jaylen Brown is the team leader in Tatum’s stead, averaging 26.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg, and 3.7 apg. Kemba Walker has averaged 15.7 ppg and 5.0 apg in his first three games back from injury, while Marcus Smart picked up some of the scoring slack in Tatum’s absence. Smart has averaged 13.8 ppg and 5.6 apg, raising his ppg average over one point over the past two weeks.

As a team, the Celtics have an effective field goal percentage of 53.6%, 15th in the league. Boston is 21st in the league in turnover percent (13.6%), 5th in offensive rebounding percent (25.2%) and 20th in free throws per field goal attempts (.178). Defensively, the Celtics are 16th in the NBA in opponents effective field goal percent (53.6%), 11th in opponent turnover percentage (13.4), 18th in defensive rebound percent (77.6%), and 18th in opponent free throws per field goal attempts (.226).

Bulls Look to Stay Hot Despite Setback in Los Angeles

The Chicago Bulls saw their three game winning streak snapped in Los Angeles, when the Lakers held them below 115 points for the first time in three games. Prior to that game, the Bulls had been on fire offensively, and will look to regain that form against an average Celtics defense.

The Bulls are led by Zach LaVine, who averages 26.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg, and 5.4 apg while shooting 38.2% from beyond the arc. Lauri Markhannen has averaged 18.6 ppg and 6.6 rpg, while Coby White has averaged 15.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg, and 5.9 apg. Leading rebounder Wendell Carter, Jr. is still expected to be out tonight when the Bulls play the Celtics.

As a team, the Bulls have an effective field goal percentage of 55.2%, 7th in the league. Chicago is 29th in the league in turnover percent (15.5%), 19th in offensive rebounding percent (20.7%) and 7th in free throws per field goal attempts (.209). Defensively, the Bulls are 27th in the NBA in opponents effective field goal percent (55.3%), 12th in opponent turnover percentage (13.3), 5th in defensive rebound percent (80.3%), and 25th in opponent free throws per field goal attempts (.219).

The Bottom Line
What to bet on this game.

Full-Game Side Bet
Rating:

I like the Celtics in this one despite being on the second day of a back-to-back and without leading scorer Jayson Tatum. First off, Boston was able to rest their starters late in the game against Cleveland due to their huge lead, which means the Celtics will be pretty fresh. Also, Boston has a decent matchup advantage with Tristan Thompson against Lauri Markhannen in the paint. The Celtics seem plenty adjusted to life without Tatum, and should win a close one.

Prediction:
Boston

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Full-Game Total Pick
Rating:

I like the UNDER in this one because of rebounding. The Celtics rank 5th in offensive rebounding percentage, but are going up against the 5th best defensive rebounding team. That should mean fewer second chances for the Celtics. The Bulls are the 19th best offensive rebounding team going up against the league’s 18th best defensive rebounding team. Again a push. Without second chances, there will be fewer scoring opportunities. Over the course of 48 minutes, that should result in a total that comes in UNDER the line.

Prediction:
UNDER