Bulls vs. Nets Odds, Pick, Preview: Eastern Conference Elite Square Off (December 4)
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Zach Lavine.
- Brooklyn hosts Chicago for a matchup of the East's two top teams on Saturday.
- The Bulls are 1-0 against the Nets this season and are playing with more rest than their hosts.
- Jacob McKenna breaks down the game and gives his top pick, below.
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
|Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
The Nets find themselves sitting at the top of the Eastern Conference, entering the matchup as the No. 1 seed with a record of 16-6 after beating the Timberwolves on Friday night. However, the Bulls are right on their tail as the second-best team in the East with a record of 15-8.
We’ve already seen these two squads face off one time this season, a game in which Chicago outscored Brooklyn 42-17 in the fourth quarter on the way to a 118-95 victory. Can Chicago take advantage of Brooklyn’s back-to-back and put together another strong performance against them, or will we see the Nets defend their home court and even the season series?
Bulls Excel On Both Ends Of Court
Last season it took the Bulls a total of 31 games to reach 15 wins. This season it has only taken them 23, which goes to show how improved this team is.
A large reason for Chicago’s success is the firepower that it has on the offensive end of the floor, which comes in the form of a two-headed monster in DeMar DeRozan and Zach Lavine. According to NBA.com, DeRozan is averaging 26.3 points per game while shooting 49.5% from the floor, and Lavine is averaging 25.4 points and shooting 48.8% overall. When it comes to choosing which guy to focus on, it often becomes a “pick-your-poison” situation for whoever they are playing.
That level of dominance on the offensive end has led this team to being ranked eighth overall in Offensive Rating according to NBA Advanced Stats, scoring 110.4 points per 100 possessions. It has also lead Chicago to a 3-1 record and averaging 119.75 points per game in its last four games, further proving the Bulls are a tough offense to slow down.
Not only do the Bulls put up big numbers, they have been doing it with an incredible level of efficiency. As a team, they are shooting 47.1% from the floor and 37.1% from behind the arc, both of which are in the top four of the NBA.
Chicago’s stellar play doesn’t end on offense though. The Bulls are ninth overall in Defensive Rating this season, allowing 105.7 points per 100 possessions, and are only surrendering 44.3 points per game in the paint, the ninth fewest in the NBA.
The Bulls pose a threat on both ends of the court, and they could easily give Brooklyn problems in their second meeting of the season.
Nets Enter Game As Top Seed In East
As previously mentioned, the Nets come into this matchup as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, and when you begin to break down the numbers, it is easy to see why.
Kevin Durant is leading the league in scoring on a points-per-game basis with 28.6, and that high level of scoring has translated to the team as a whole. According to NBA Advanced Stats, Brooklyn is 11th overall in Offensive Rating, and as a team Brooklyn is shooting 46.8% from the floor and 37.2% from three, two metrics in which it is in the top five.
A team that has Durant and James Harden on it is going to cause problems on offense, and when you factor in the fact that Brooklyn is seventh overall in pace this season, its offense becomes even scarier as it is getting more chances to put the ball in the basket.
Joe Harris, a key part of this offense, will miss this contest due to an ankle injury, but Brooklyn is 6-2 since Harris has last played and hasn’t seemed to miss a step.
Similar to Chicago, Brooklyn backs up its offensive success with great play on defense. As a team, the Nets are only allowing their opponents to shoot 42.9% from the floor overall and 30.8% from behind the arc, both of which are in the top two in the NBA. They are also eighth overall in Defensive Rating, allowing just 105.5 points per 100 possessions.
Brooklyn is widely known for its scoring ability, but it has more than held its own on defense as well this season and has become a great two-way team.
This game is going to be filled with star power, and it will likely be a close contest until the final horn.
Brooklyn did have to play up until the final seconds against Minnesota on Friday, and I think that is going to be a factor in this one. The Nets are 1-1 against the spread this season on the back end of a back-to-back, but according to Team Rankings Brooklyn is just 3-8-1 ATS as a home favorite and 5-10 ATS after a win.
Meanwhile, Chicago has had a day of rest, is 15-8 overall against the spread this season, and is 8-4 ATS while on the road. The Bulls have already beaten Brooklyn outright once this year as was mentioned earlier, and I think they keep this game close too.
Pick: Chicago +3 (-110)