Bulls vs. Celtics Odds, Pick, Prediction: Game Script Points to Value on Over/Under (January 9)

Bulls vs. Celtics Odds, Pick, Prediction: Game Script Points to Value on Over/Under (January 9) article feature image

Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: DeMar DeRozan #11 of the Chicago Bulls, Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics.

  • The Boston Celtics, who have won back-to-back games, host the Chicago Bulls on Monday night.
  • Meanwhile, the Bulls have won three straight, but are just 8-12 on the road this season.
  • Jim Turvey looks at the matchup and offers up a betting prediction below.

Bulls vs. Celtics Odds

Bulls Odds+8.5
Celtics Odds-8.5
Time7:30 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

Monday night features a battle of NBA blue bloods, as the resurgent Chicago Bulls (19-21) head to Boston to take on the conference-leading Celtics (28-12).

Both teams have played better of late after some shaky play leading up to the holidays.

For the Celtics, Marcus Smart is doubtful to play. Alex Caruso is the main name on the Bulls' injury report and is listed as questionable. Let's check out how the two teams matchup and get you some picks.

Chicago Bulls

In the past month, the Bulls have quietly been playing some really strong basketball.

Since December 5, they are 10-7, with four of those losses coming either by one possession, or in overtime. They have the 11th-best net rating over that time period, and have done it all against a pretty solid schedule. They have faced, by a decent margin, the toughest schedule in the NBA this season.

The team has done so by pretty much sticking to the script, with its 'Big Three' of DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, and Nikola Vucevic leading the charge. All three are averaging about a point or two more per game during the past five weeks, and the offense as a whole has climbed to middle of the league, despite maintaining an allergy to the three-point line.

On that note, the Bulls are 1.6 three-point attempts per game below any other team in the league this season, and the problem only gets worse when adding in what they let opponents do from deep. Only four teams give up more threes per game than Chicago, and only one team (the lowly San Antonio Spurs) allows its opposition to make threes at a higher clip.

Of course, the Bulls have still managed to win games of late! They've done it by leaning on the pick and roll more than any other team, excelling from the deep-two range (their 13.2% of field goals attempted from deep two is comically higher than any other team in the league, but they also hit them at the sixth-best rate, so you can't complain too much), and, ironically, doing well on threes from the corner.

So how does that all match up with Boston? Let's take a look.

Boston Celtics

After a stretch of five losses in six games that had their fans a little nervous, the Celtics have won six of eight to remind us all that whenever we think momentum exists in the NBA regular season, it disappears quick enough to remind us we were fools for thinking it was ever real.

The start of their most recent winning stretch came at home, but it finished on the road with a statement win on TNT Thursday over the Mavericks.

The Celtics are back at home, and will look to take advantage of that math problem with which the Bulls have struggled at times this year. And as anyone who has even semi-closely followed the NBA this season knows, the Celtics and their threes have been one of those momentum-esque narratives.

As I wrote while previewing Boston's game with Dallas last week:

Heading into that fateful game in San Francisco on Dec. 10, the Celtics were hitting 40% of their threes. Since then, they’ve hit 31.1% — the third-worst mark in the NBA in that timeframe. Now, Boston was actually coming back to Earth a bit even before that Warriors game, but that game makes for a convenient line of demarcation.

So, let's update that with some more (somewhat) arbitrary dates!

In the past eight games, since the Celtics have woken back up, they're shooting 34.8%. The truth lies in the middle of those two big outliers.

If we zoom out, however, the Celtics are still in the top seven in both three-pointers made and taken per game, and therefore should be a good matchup with the Bulls. Of course, things haven't quite worked out that way this season, with the Celtics going 0-3 against the spread against Chicago, including two straight-up losses.

Bulls-Celtics Pick

I think the spread is set at a decent number, but I lean a bit toward the Celtics.

Where I see a bit more value is in the total. The Celtics could really carry this over if they get up as many threes as the Bulls should in theory let them take, and the Bulls offense is truly cooking right now.

Chicago also runs the highest percent of pick and rolls of any team in the league this season, and that's actually one of the rare weak spots for an otherwise strong Celtics defense.

This line opened at 236.5 and has moved up half a point since at most books, but is still out there at BetMGM.

Pick: Over 236.5 (Play to 238)

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