Cavaliers vs. Bulls Odds, Pick, Prediction: The ML Bet to Make (Dec. 31)

Cavaliers vs. Bulls Odds, Pick, Prediction: The ML Bet to Make (Dec. 31) article feature image

Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: DeMar DeRozan of the Chicago Bulls.

  • The Cleveland Cavaliers take on the Chicago Bulls in Saturday night NBA action.
  • The Cavs enter on a four-game skid but still boast a solid net rating.
  • Chris Baker breaks down whether or not the Bulls can make it five losses in a row for the Cavs on Saturday.

Cavaliers vs. Bulls Odds

Cavaliers Odds-2.5
Bulls Odds+2.5
Time7 p.m. ET
TVNBA League Pass
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Cavs will travel to Chicago to take on an extremely hot Bulls team on Saturday night.

Can the Bulls continue their dominant play? Or will the Cavs approach this game with urgency to avoid 4 straight losses? Let's dive into how these teams match up with each other.

Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavs were briefly the top team in the league in adjusted net rating team prior to the recent four-game skid over this past week.

They still rank No. 2 in net rating ,so there's definitely no reason to panic, especially considering the quality of opponents they have played during this losing streak. They’ve lost to the eighth-ranked Bucks, fifth-ranked Nets and the 15th-ranked Raptors.

Their most recent loss came to the 17th-ranked Pacers, who played absolutely lights out, shooting 61% from deep and 56% from the field. The Pacers' offensive rating and effective field goal percentage both ranked in the 99th percentile of offensive performances this season, according to Cleaning the Glass.

The Pacers offense poses unique challenges to the Cavs defense, as they rank fifth in the NBA in 3-point attempt rate. The Cavs defense should be able to bounce back from their 135-point letdown performance against a Bulls team that ranks dead last in the NBA in 3-point rate. The Bulls just aren’t getting up enough 3s, and I expect this Cavaliers defense to bounce back in this spot.

Another edge for this Cavs defense comes on the defensive glass, where they rank fourth in the NBA in defensive rebound rate on the year. Expect the Cavs to dominate on the glass as the Bulls don’t generate many second chances, ranking 27th in the NBA in offensive rebound rate.

Offensively, the Cavaliers may struggle a bit as they may be down multiple key contributors with Darius Garland, Cedi Osman and Evan Mobley all being listed as questionable as of writing.

Osman has been particularly impactful for this Cavs offense as the offense has been (+9.8) points better per 100 possessions with him on the court. That places him in the 94th percentile of all players in offensive impact, according to Cleaning the Glass.

Losing Osman and Garland, their best playmaker, would obviously significantly hinder their ability to score against this top-10 Bulls defense. Monitor the injury reports before placing any bets on the Cavs here.

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Chicago Bulls

The Bulls are coming off of a huge overtime win over the division-rival Bucks on Wednesday night and a victory over another division foe in the Pistons on Friday.

Just when everyone was calling for the team to be blown up and rebuilt, the Bulls have now won five of their last six games.

This will be the third division rival in a row, and they will not have a rest advantage as the Cavs haven’t played since Thursday night. The good news for Chicago is it won’t have to travel at all and hasn't traveled in the past eight days, so it does have a travel edge over the Cavs.

I expect this Bulls defense to have success limiting the Cavs, as they enter as the sixth-best defensive rebounding team in the NBA.

Alex Caruso is another key reason I expect this Bulls defense to survive at the point of attack against Donovan Mitchell and Garland. His defensive impact has been insane, and he has won games this season with his harassing on-ball defense.

The defense is (-7.1) points better per 100 possessions with him on the court this season (92nd percentile). He also ranks as the top defender in the entire league, according to FiveThirtyEight’s  RAPTOR metric. Caruso is a difference-maker for this team, and the Bulls are going to need him to stay out of foul trouble if they want to limit the guard tandem of Garland and Mitchell.

Offensively, I expect the Bulls to have some success in the midrange, as the Cavs are somewhat devoid of talented wing defenders on their roster. DeMar DeRozan has been absolutely dominating from the midrange area again this season, as he is now averaging 26.3 points per game on 51.1% shooting from the floor.

He should be able to stay hot against this Cavs team that allows the 13th-most midrange attempts in the NBA.

Cavaliers-Bulls Pick

With so many key question marks for this Cavs team, I would have to lean Bulls getting points at home.

With Zach LaVine coming off a 43-point eruption last night against the Pistons, I expect him to remain confident alongside DeRozan. When both of these key players have it going, this offense can be dangerous for opposing defenses, and I'm not extremely confident in the guard tandem of Garland and Mitchell.

Trust the Bulls to stay hot and make a statement win over a very good Cleveland team. Play the Bulls moneyline at +120.

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