Chicago Bulls vs. Boston Celtics Odds & Pick: Chicago May Struggle Without Zach LaVine

Chicago Bulls vs. Boston Celtics Odds & Pick: Chicago May Struggle Without Zach LaVine article feature image
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Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics.

  • Boston and Chicago meet for a battle of Eastern Conference foes on Saturday night.
  • The first-place Bulls have dropped two straight and are getting 4.5 points on the road.
  • Joe Dellera breaks down where he sees betting value in this matchup, below.

Bulls vs. Celtics Odds

Bulls Odds +4.5
Celtics Odds -4.5
Over/Under 219.5
Time 8:30 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Chicago Bulls may be sitting atop the Eastern Conference but they just suffered back-to-back dismantlings at the hands of the Nets and then the short handed Warriors last night.

Now, they take on the Boston Celtics, who just had their own double-digit loss last night to the 76ers.

Which of these teams is best suited to bounce back on no rest?

Bulls Get Bad News

The Bulls got some bad news to go along with their big loss. Zach LaVine injured his left knee and will get an MRI on Saturday to confirm the severity of the injury, although there is “initial confidence that he avoided a serious injury.”  Along with LaVine, the Bulls will continue to be without Alex Caruso and Derrick Jones, Jr.

A primary concern of losing LaVine is this team has already been ravaged with injury this season, and LaVine is a truly elite offensive option. While Lonzo Ball has been an excellent facilitator and even shooter himself, Nikola Vucevic is a great interior presence, and DeMar DeRozan has had a resurgent and All-Star caliber year, none of them bring the spacing that LaVine provides this team.

Ball’s best strength is utilizing his vision and passing ability to facilitate for the team’s primary offensive options. And DeRozan does not have the outside shooting ability to keep defenders honest beyond the 3-point line. LaVine provides this team with not only spacing, but two incredible shot creators alongside DeRozan that help take the pressure off the other.

Despite this, the Bulls were 2-0 without LaVine on the season prior to yesterday’s beat down after he played just four minutes. However, those wins were against the Rockets and a Lakers team starting Isaiah Thomas.


Celtics Play Hero Ball

The Celtics will be without Marcus Smart who is in the League’s Health and Safety Protocols, and Dennis Schroder should start in his absence. In Schroder’s 21 starts this season he has averaged 18.8 points, 4.8 assists, and 3.7 rebounds per game.

The Celtics have had an up and down year, and they’re a game below .500 in 11th place in the East. However, they’ve undergone multiple stretches this season where their team has been less than whole, and for this game they will have their two brightest stars, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.

The one issue with this combo is they have a tendency to play hero ball, and that can bog down the offense. However, the Celtics’ defense has been a strength this season, with the sixth-best Adjusted Defensive Rating (107.3).

This team is excellent in the half court, and they allow just 90.3 points per 100 half court plays, fifth-best in the NBA. Without LaVine, the Bulls should be forced into a more traditional offense that is a touch less explosive in both transition and the half court. The Celtics’ defense should be able to hold them.

Bulls-Celtics Pick

Although these teams sit so far apart in the standings, they are not so different in terms of adjusted Net Rating. The Bulls are ranked 12th (+1.6), and the Celtics are actually ranked higher at 9th (+2.0). Now, the Bulls will be without Zach LaVine, who is arguably their most important player.

When these teams played in November, the Bulls performed a miraculous comeback when they won the fourth quarter by a whopping 29 points, they shot 57% from the floor, and LaVine played a major role in that game, along with Alex Caruso and neither will play tonight.

Given the back-to-back, and the LaVine injury, the Celtics are the team to back here despite the season-long records. Back the home team against a short-handed Bulls team that is just 5-7 straight up and ATS as an underdog this season.

Pick: Celtics -4.5

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