Phan: How I’m Betting Wednesday’s Hornets-Bulls Game

Phan: How I’m Betting Wednesday’s Hornets-Bulls Game article feature image

Photos from USAToday Sports. Pictured: Kemba Walker and Zach LaVine.

Betting odds: Charlotte Hornets at Chicago Bulls

  • Spread: Hornets -4.5
  • Over/Under: 230.5
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET

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Let’s get this out of the way: The Bulls are the worst team in the league right now. Their defense could end up being historically bad, which is no surprise in light of the fact that Zach LaVine and Jabari Parker are among the team’s leaders in minutes. The Bulls’ Defensive Rating with both on the court (129.0) speaks for itself.

They’ve been able to score at around a league-average rate (109.2 ORtg, 18th), but even that seems unsustainable. Their offense has been propped up by some ridiculously hot shooting by LaVine, who’s at a career best from every shooting zone on the court outside of long 2s. His effective field-goal percentage is at 71% so far this season, and it’s a matter of time until he regresses closer to his previous career 50.1% mark.

What’s even worse, the Bulls just lost Kris Dunn for four to six weeks due to an MCL sprain. That means even more of Tank Commander Cam Payne, which is never a good thing. The Bulls are 11.5 points per 100 possessions better this season with Payne on the bench, and they’re 3-13 with a -198 point differential in the 16 career starts he’s made.

They’ll square off against a balanced Hornets side that ranks eighth in Net Rating and point differential. That’s with three of their four games on the road to start the season and with them having played the league’s fourth-toughest schedule so far, per ESPN.

The Hornets should have a big advantage with their second unit, especially against a Bulls side that just lost Dunn and is still without Denzel Valentine (ankle). The Hornets’ bench ranks fourth in efficiency so far this season compared to just 24th for the Bulls. Jabari’s presence alone puts the Bulls at a massive defensive disadvantage.

The Bulls did win three of their four meetings against Charlotte last season, which is probably the only thing in their favor here, but because of the improvements the Hornets have made under coach James Borrego and the current state of the Bulls without Lauri Markkanen (elbow) and Dunn, it’s tough to see this matchup as anything but one-sided.

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.