NBA Betting Odds, Preview, Prediction for Bulls vs. Bucks: Fade Chicago on Back-to-Back Set
Via Sam Forencich/Getty Images. Pictured: Giannis Antetokounmpo
- The Bucks host the Bulls as home favorites on Tuesday night.
- The Bulls are getting healthier, but do they have enough to upset the Bucks who will be without Khris Middleton?
- Matt Moore breaks down the matchup and shares his best bet below.
Bulls vs. Bucks Odds
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
The Bulls are trying to stay out of the play-in tournament, on a back-to-back against the big bad Bucks. Milwaukee is looking to get one step further to another division title and a two-seed with homecourt the first two rounds.
In a fascinating matchup with one very important overall trend, what’s the best way to bet Bulls-Bucks?
Vucevic Leads the Shorthanded Bulls
Lonzo Ball is out, for the foreseeable future, after the team paused his ramp-up to return from injury this week.
Patrick Williams just returned from a long injury absence (wrist) in Monday’s win over the Raptors, so don’t be surprised if he rests this game as he returns to proper conditioning. Likewise, Zach LaVine is still dealing with a balky knee, and there’s a good chance they decide to rest him in this spot as well.
The Bulls are starting to stabilize a little bit defensively with the return of Alex Caruso. Chicago got waxed by two high-octane offenses in Phoenix and Utah, but in their three other games since Caruso’s return, they’re averaging a sub-110 Defensive Rating, much closer to the standard they were at before injuries wrecked their point of attack defense.
Williams plays a role in this, though, especially in a matchup vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo, so watch out for his availability, as well as all the Bulls on the injury report.
Chicago’s offense is legit, though. They are the fourth-best offense in halfcourt and the No.1 team by a wide margin in transition offense per possession via Synergy Sports.
They can put up big numbers in a hurry with their combination of shotmaking, passing, and speed.
With Brook Lopez back for the Bucks, Milwaukee will play more of its base defensive scheme, dropping the big in pick and roll, which typically opens things in the midrange for maestro DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine.
However, the Bucks are masters at that scheme, with Jrue Holiday and the Bucks’ long defenders able to get around the screen to contest and bother the shooters instead of letting them ease into their jumpers.
Additionally, the Bulls are very efficient in their offense because of how good they are at making their shots, but they suffer from a math problem in this matchup. The Bucks make the fourth-most 3s per 100 possessions in the league. The Bulls are 28th in that category. Surprisingly, through two games of the season series, the Bulls have actually made one more 3 than the Bucks. That’s unlikely to hold.
Both benches are creaky; the Bulls have defensive liabilities in Coby White and offensive liabilities in Troy Brown and young players like Ayo Dosunmu who has played well, but the team has struggled overall when he’s on-court.
The Bulls’ chances in this game may come down to Nikola Vucevic, who needs to control the glass against the Bucks’ behemoths and score on his own; Vucevic has actually played great against Lopez, averaging a 20-10 line on better than 50% shooting. In related news, Vucevic’s teams are also 7-15 vs. Lopez all-time, but Vucevic has won the last five matchups.
Will the Bucks’ Size Dominate Down Low?
Khris Middleton (wrist) is out. Antetokounmpo (knee) is probable. The Bucks lost DeAndre’ Bembry for the season due to a knee injury.
No Middleton is certainly an issue in this matchup. Milwaukee’s offense can stay afloat with its volume of three-pointers, but they sacrificed wing depth at the trade deadline when they moved both Donte DiVincenzo and Rodney Hood to get Serge Ibaka.
The Bucks are still dangerous as long as Antetokounmpo plays, however. The Bucks are 35-12 SU and 26-21 ATS this season when Holiday and Giannis both play. However, they’re just 3-3 when Giannis and Holiday play but Middleton is out.
The Bucks should be able to get downhill vs. the Bulls’ leaky transition defense, control the glass and create more second-chance opportunities (Milwaukee is 13th in second chance points, the Bulls 29th — on account of their scheme to try and get back in transition).
The Bulls do allow the ninth-fewest second-chance points per 100 possessions, but Milwaukee’s size advantage looms here.
There’s a trend I need to mention here: Mike Budenholzer vs. division opponents.
Budenholzer has dominated division teams in his time in Milwaukee. Some of that is because the division was weaker than it is now. But overall, Budenholzer is an outrageous 47-7 straight up vs. Central Division teams since arriving in Milwaukee.
He just does not lose these games, and if you start with “they win at an 87% clip” then you’re going to cover most of the time. Now it’s important to note that this season accounts for three of those total seven losses, and this season, the Bucks are just 7-5 ATS against division opponents.
However, if you shorten it to division games this season when the Bucks are favored by fewer than double-digits, the Bucks are 7-2 straight up and 6-3 ATS.
The books definitely inflate this trend, but in this spot, with the Bulls on the back-to-back, possibly resting players, and with a spread under 10, I think there’s value on the Bucks to continue their spread dominance over division teams. The Bulls are better with Caruso back, but not as good as they were with Lonzo Ball.
I make this spread Bucks -8 and think there’s value on the Bucks to that number. If the number shifts to double digits if the Bulls rest players on the back-to-back (they may not), then I move to liking Chicago at anything above 10.5.
Pick: Bucks -7