Celtics vs. Bulls NBA Odds & Picks: Does Chicago Have Value in Must-Win Game? (May 7)
Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics.
- This matchup revolves around the play-in game, with Boston needing a win to avoid it, and Chicago needing a win to make it.
- The Bulls just blew out Charlotte on Thursday, but face a rested Celtics team that beat Orlando by 36 on Wednesday.
- Joe Dellera explains why he's fading Chicago in this must-win game, below.
Celtics vs. Bulls Odds
|Moneyline||-150 / +125|
|Time||Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Thursday and via BetMGM|
The Celtics take on the Bulls in a meaningful game for both teams. While the Bulls are clinging to a very slim chance at a 10-seed, play-in berth, the Celtics are trying to avoid the play-in tournament all together.
The Bulls destroyed the Hornets last night, but will they be hampered on short rest against this Celtics team? Let’s break it down.
Jaylen Brown is listed out with an ankle sprain, with general manager Danny Ainge telling local radio that Brown will probably return on Sunday. When Brown missed on Wednesday, Evan Fournier started and coach Brad Stevens used a nine-man rotation.
Tristan Thompson also missed Wednesday’s game with a pectoral injury, while Romeo Langford missed due to the league’s concussion protocol. Both are probable on Friday, with Robert Williams III listed as questionable with turf toe. Keep an eye on all of their statuses with the Fantasy Labs Insiders Tool.
The Celtics have been such a strange team this year. They have absolutely elite scoring options between Jayson Tatum, Brown and even Kemba Walker. They’ve struggled, however, to put it together and somehow are only two games behind the Knicks in the loss column for the 4-seed in the East.
Boston has simply underperformed all year. They have the 10-best point differential in the league, but they’ve been incredibly inconsistent with their effort. What’s shocking is that Brown has just a +0.1 point differential. This obviously does not match the eye test, because the Celtics are fundamentally better with him than without him, but they are able to fill in for him in their lineups with Payton Pritchard and Marcus Smart.
For example, with Brown, Pritchard averages just 7.2 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 19.2 minutes; without Brown, he averages 11.9 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 20.3 minutes. His scoring sees a boost. Expect to see Pritchard step up to fill in for Brown in the likely event that he cannot play.
The Bulls destroyed the Hornets last night, but now they have to travel back to Chicago for this second game in as many days. Troy Brown missed that game, but keep an eye on the status of both Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic. LaVine just returned from the league’s health and safety protocols and scored only 13 points in 27 minutes against the Hornets. Vucevic returned from a two-game absence as well, due to a right hip/adductor injury.
The Bulls have struggled all season, and although they are not eliminated from playoff contention, they are three games back of the Wizards in the loss column for the 10-seed with just six games left to play. Vucevic is great offensively, but his defense is so poor that the Bulls, who already had a middling defense, give up 5.7 more points per 100 possessions on defense when he’s on the floor, per Cleaning the Glass.
The Bulls actually do a decent job keeping their opponents off of the 3-point line, but they get decimated from midrange and allow the third-worst field goal percentage from there. Additionally, while they may prevent 3-point attempts, they certainly do not stop the makes from the corner, with opponents shooting 42.1% on corner 3’s, per Cleaning the Glass.
There are playoff implications, but this is a let-down spot for Chicago on a back-to-back. The Bulls are just 7-8 ATS on no rest and 7-12 ATS as a home dog, per Bet Labs.
Considering how rusty Zach LaVine looked last night, it may take a few reps for him to regain his form against a Celtics team that can throw Marcus Smart at him. While both teams need this game, I trust Jayson Tatum to get the job done. He’s averaged 30.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists in eight games without Jaylen Brown. Between Kemba Walker, Brown and Smart, this Celtics team has plenty of firepower to outscore the Bulls .
My one concern is if Robert Williams III does not play, the Celtics may not be able to properly defend against Nikola Vucevic. However, I’ll lay the points here and ride with the road favorites.
Pick: Celtics -3