The Boston Celtics (31-26, 28-29 ATS) continue their string of second half home games against the Chicago Bulls (23-33, 30-26 ATS) for the first time since they swapped Daniel Theis and Luke Kornet at the NBA Trade Deadline. Boston is 10-3 since then, while Chicago has lost 9-of-13 as they hang on for life in the playoff race.
According to the online sports book Betonline.ag, the Celtics are 6.0 point favorites.
- Celtics vs. Bulls spread: Celtics -6
- Celtics vs. Bulls over-under: 216.5 points
- Celtics vs. Bulls money line: Celtics -240, Bulls +200
The Bulls lost their leading scorer Zach LaVine (COVID protocol) indefinitely over the weekend. They’re otherwise healthy entering tonight’s 7:30 EST tip-off.
Boston will be without Robert Williams III (knee) for the third straight game. Evan Fournier (COVID protocol) is still out despite clearing quarantine over the weekend. Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart (non-COVID illness) are questionable.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS
G: Kemba Walker
G: Marcus Smart
F: Jaylen Brown
F: Jayson Tatum
C: Tristan Thompson
G: Coby White
G: Garrett Temple
SF: Patrick Williams
PF: Daniel Theis
C: Nikola Vucevic
The Bulls were dealt a possible knockout blow this week, with 16 games to go, when Zach LaVine entered COVID protocol. It’s unclear whether he tested positive or how long he’ll miss. Every game that passes will matter for a team that is tied with Toronto for the final spot in the play-in tournament.
Chicago has seen its gaudy early-season offense dip and defense remain poor while losing 9-of-13 since the trade deadline. The Bulls won the deadline to some in acquiring Nikola Vucevic, Troy Brown Jr. and Daniel Theis for Wendell Carter Jr., Moe Wagner and Luke Kornet. The team gave LaVine a roll threat in its pick-and-roll attack, along with a sturdy defensive backup.
Vucevic is averaging 22.8 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game on 50.4% shooting from the field and 46.4% from three. Despite that, the Bulls have lost his minutes by 9.3 points per 100 possessions. Only Lauri Markkanen has posted net-neutral minutes in a regular role since the deadline.
Chicago ranks bottom-five in defense, as it has for most of this season, allowing 115 points per 100 possessions since Vucevic and Theis arrived. The Bulls have also slid to middle of the league in offense (111 points per 100), a trend that had already developed prior to their arrival. They’re an overall -1.3 net this season, and the Celtics beat them handily earlier this season behind 50 points from Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.
This game is a story of two teams moving in separate directions. Chicago already stood in the midst of a three-game losing streak when LaVine went down. Tomas Satoransky replacing him stalled the offense after, then Coby White helped set the offense back on track in the last two games. Meanwhile, the Celtics have exploded into the top-10 in both offensive and defensive ratings this month, while winning 10-of-13.
Walker and Smart may miss tonight’s game, but Tatum and Brown are available after initially appearing in the injury report and proved enough last time to handily beat the Bulls without Walker. Tristan Thompson and Grant Williams remain a competitive post defensive force this month (sub-100 defensive rating together), and should sustain after holding Vucevic to 15-of-33 shooting in Boston’s two wins over Orlando.
Patrick Williams and Garrett Temple are not enough wing resistance to slow the ongoing tears from Boston’s wings, particularly with Jabari Parker appearing able to contribute at the four now as long as Fournier continues to miss games. That said, Chicago’s competitive units have come off the bench and Boston’s stands to be thinner tonight. A cover is likely here, but not certain.
Boston 121, Chicago 106 (30–19, 21-24 ATS)