Bulls vs. Hawks Odds
|Time||Friday, 7 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Thursday and via PointsBet|
The Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks had similar aspirations after making big offseason moves. One team is contending for home-court advantage in the playoffs, while the other is hoping to make it, however.
Friday night’s matchup has postseason implications and features two teams that have been thriving of late against the spread. Let’s break down where the betting value lies.
The Bulls are 3-3 since acquiring Nikola Vucevic and maybe aren’t heading toward a certain playoff spot the way they hoped, but bettors will be thrilled that they’ve covered in six straight games.
Chicago has won its last three outright against the injured Nets, struggling Pacers and Raptors. It looks like next year will have to be the year it breaks through as a contender. The Bulls are one game behind the Pacers for the ninth spot in the Eastern Conference after beating Toronto on Thursday night.
The Bulls entered Thursday’s game ranked 16th in Offensive Rating and 20th in Defensive Rating, per NBA Advanced Stats, since acquiring Vucevic. It’s not a surprise that it hasn’t clicked yet, but it better soon if Chicago is going to potentially play the role of spoiler this season in the playoffs.
One reason for Chicago’s woes is a nagging ankle injury that has slowed down All-Star guard Zach LaVine. The Bulls’ leading scorer is shooting 38.9% from the field in his last eight games, during which he’s scoring 20.5 points per game.
LaVine did bounce back on Thursday night with 22 points (8-of-16 shooting) 13 assists, six rebounds and three steals.
Chicago’s recent success for bettors has been no surprise. The Bulls are 28-21-1 on the season against the spread, including an amazing 18-6 mark on the road.
The entire NBA community was outraged when the Hawks fired Lloyd Pierce on March 1. Atlanta was 14-20 but had battled injuries for much of the season. The team that was assembled through free agency in the offseason hadn’t really done much together. It was presumed Pierce needed more time.
Well, Nate McMillan has the answers. McMillan, like Pierce, was a surprising firing at the end of last season, with the Pacers thinking he had taken them as far as he could. Now, he’s coaching a Hawks team that could host a first-round playoff series.
Atlanta is 13-5 under McMillan, having won four of its last five games. They covered all four of those wins, with the one defeat coming on Wednesday night against the Grizzlies.
The only shaky patch of play under McMillan was an eight-game road trip through the Western Conference, but the Hawks still went 4-4.
Atlanta is really in pole position to host a first-round series. They enter the night tied with the Hornets for the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. While Charlotte has fared better than most expected it to without LaMelo Ball, the Hawks have to feel good about their chances with how they’re playing and a slew of recent injuries to Hornets’ starters.
The value in this game appears to lie in the total. Chicago has gone under in five of its last six games, with the one over coming with the total 216. Atlanta, meanwhile, has gone under in two of its last three. The Bulls rank ninth in pace this season, according to NBA Advanced Stats, and the Hawks 21st, which means this isn’t going to be played faster than usual with the home team likely to dictate more of the tempo.
In addition, with the spread at -3, I’ll back Atlanta at home. For me, this is close enough to take the team I think will win. The Hawks are playing well and had Thursday night off, so I’ll back them to continue their quest for a home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Picks: Under 227.5 | Hawks -3
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