NBA Odds, Picks, Betting Predictions: Our Favorite Saturday Bets, Including Bulls vs. Spurs (March 27)
Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Chicago Bulls
While the NCAA Tournament takes center stage on Saturday, we’ve got plenty of NBA action to go along with it.
Our staff has honed in on one game — Bulls-Spurs — for their favorite bets, playing both a side and total.
NBA Odds & Picks
Bulls at Spurs
Raheem Palmer: Going to keep this short and sweet. Today we find out just how many points a front court with Lauri Markkanen and Nikola Vucevic are going to give up for a Bulls team which is already 16th in Defensive Rating, allowing 112.9 points per 100 possessions.
This simply isn’t a front court that’s design for stopping opposing defenses. Vucevic is 47th in Defensive RPM among all NBA centers and during his time with the Orlando Magic the defense was +8.1 points per 100 possessions on defense with him off the floor.
Some of that has a lot to do with who he played with in Orlando, but nonetheless my point remains the same. If Vucevic is your last line of defense, you’re not going to be stopping many people. The Bulls are 11th in opposing field goal percentage at the rim, allowing opposing teams to shoot 62.8%, however this should get noticeably worse with Vucevic. The Bulls are 28th at defending the mid range, allowing opposing teams to shoot 45.7% so expect a big game from DeMar Derozan today.
Fortunately for the Bulls, Vucevic gets everything back on the offensive end of the floor where he’s averaging 24.5 points while shooting 48% from the field and 40.6% from behind 3 on 6.5 attempts a game. Combined with Markkanen, this is a team that can play 5-out and stretch the floor while beating you inside.
If Zach LaVine, who is questionable with an ankle injury, suits up, this Spurs defense (21st over the past two weeks, giving up 114.8 points per 100 possessions) is going to have problems stopping this team. The Spurs aren’t very good at defending the corner three, ranking 19th in opposing field goal percentage at (40.7%) an area where the Bulls thrive, shooting 44.5% and they should be even better with the addition of Vucevic.
With both teams capable of scoring in this matchup, it’s important to look at pace and the Bulls play at the eighth fastest pace in the league this season (101.07). Overall, I made this number 220 before the Vucevic trade and since I’m projecting a better offense and worse defense, at 219 this feels like a bargain. I’ll take the over 219.
Bulls at Spurs
Brandon Anderson: The Spurs have lost four games in a row, but tonight against the Bulls is a great chance to right the ship.
San Antonio is not a sexy team, but the Spurs are doing what they often do under Gregg Popovich. They’re playing tough defense and grinding out wins. San Antonio has a top 10 defense with a positive defensive shot profile, and that should be a good antidote to a strong Bulls attack.
Chicago could end up with one of the best offenses in the league now that Vucevic has arrived, but this will take some time. The Bulls have thrived in minutes with Thaddeus Young at center, and Vooch is a very different player and represents an entirely new m.o. on offense. Chicago basically had one day to put together a game plan for this new offense, and they’ve had little time to prepare for how tough this defense might be with Vucevic and LaVine.
LaVine is also a question mark here, which would hurt Chicago’s chances significantly. It would also mean an even weirder transition on offense with one new star as a high-usage big man and one less start tonight with the ball in his hands all game at guard.
Really, this is a bet against Chicago more than one on San Antonio. The Spurs will do what they do, giving themselves a chance to win, and this looks like a winnable spot against a Bulls team that needs some time to figure things out. I like the Spurs even if LaVine plays and especially if he’s out.