Bulls vs. Suns NBA Odds & Picks: Phoenix Will Create Post Issue for Chicago (March 31)
Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Devin Booker and Mikal Bridges of the Phoenix Suns.
- The Phoenix Suns host the Chicago Bulls on Thursday in the second game of a back-to-back set.
- Phoenix, which is coming off a win over the Atlanta Hawks, faces an opponent still looking for its first win since the trade deadline.
- Kenny Ducey explains why he likes the Suns to cover below.
Bulls vs. Suns Odds
|Moneyline||+225 / -275|
|Time||Wednesday, 10 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
|Odds as of Wednesday morning and via DraftKings|
After holding off a late charge from the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday, the Phoenix Suns will turn right back around on less than 24 hours’ rest Wednesday and host the Chicago Bulls, who are still looking for their first win since adding to their squad at the trade deadline.
Wins — and covers — have been really hard to come by for Chicago, and the task won’t get any easier with Phoenix and Utah coming up on the road.
Will the new-look Bulls finally come through and play a competitive 48 minutes? Or will the Suns continue dominating on the second night of back-to-back sets? Let’s look into the matchup and see if we can find the answer.
Things could be going better for the Bulls, who have lost their last four games and failed to cover in each of those contests. The acquisition of Nikola Vučević hasn’t yielded Chicago any wins as of yet, though he hasn’t been the issue. Also, it’s not like the team acquired Evan Fournier at the deadline.
This game will be a good test for Vučević, who has scored 21 points in each of his first two games. The Bulls center has the tough task of facing the imposing De’Andre Ayton, who has shut down some of the league’s most dominant players at the position this season.
The Suns have allowed just 58.5% shooting inside of eight feet over the past 10 games. Over the last seven games, which have seen the Bulls win once, Chicago ranks just 23rd with a 33.7% success rate on 3-pointers and sits in the bottom 10 with a 56.1% field-goal percentage inside eight feet.
Scoring has been an issue and so has been stopping opposing scorers. The Bulls are 18th in the league with a 112.5 Defensive Rating during their slide. That efficiency rating runs all the way up to 122.8 in the 58 minutes where Vučević has seen the floor.
Conditions don’t seem ideal for the Bulls to pick up a much-needed win — or even a cover — but Vučević is as talented as they come and eventually with Zach LaVine the two should form a formidable offensive attack. Games like this one against the Suns will be important to watch. It’ll be a great test against one of the league’s top defenses.
Some of you might not me might not be as excited for me to type this next sentence, so I’m just going to give you fair warning. The Suns come into this game on the second night of a back-to-back set.
And why’s that so exciting? Well, no team has rewarded bettors more than Phoenix on no rest. The Suns have gone 8-2 against the spread in this spot, tied with the Los Angeles Clippers for the best mark in the league. So, right off the bat, there’s palpable electricity surrounding the Suns at this number.
Phoenix has no immediate injury concerns, though that can always change on the second night of a back-to-back set. So, with that, we’ll just look at the matchup on paper.
Defensively, Phoenix has been exceptional over the past 10 games, ranking fourth with an efficiency rating of 106.4 on the statistic. Offensively, the Suns have been led by Devin Booker and his 24.4 points per game over this span, though his 29.9% three-point shooting is of particular concern.
That’s been offset by the slight emergence of Abdel Nader, who has hit 44.4% from deep, and Jae Crowder, who has been steady from range at nearly 38% despite an 0-for-9 night just a couple games ago.
The Suns have won six of their last seven games, and covered in five of them, so between that and their great record against the spread on the second night of back-to-backs, they’re trending toward yet another cover in this spot.
Something interesting I’ve noticed ahead of this game is just how differently the Bulls are playing. They’re averaging fewer than seven post-ups this season, according to Second Spectrum, which is well below league average. Yet, over the past two contests, they lead the league with 17 post-ups a game.
That is a drastic jump, and one that certainly is due to the fact that the team just added Vučević. On the other hand, you’ve got the Suns, who rank sixth in basketball with 10 post-ups a game this season.
The difference here should come in the Suns’ post defense. Ayton and his teammates have allowed just 0.9 points per play on post-ups to rank 10th best, as tracked by Synergy, while Chicago ranks eighth worst in the category. Vučević’s defense has long been his biggest weakness, so it’s definitely fair to expect this frontcourt to keep being bad against the play. If anything, it could be worse.
So, in this post battle, I’m absolutely backing the Suns. Not only are the trends in their favor, the mismatch should be significant as well. Chicago’s clearly trying to force the issue to get Vučević going, and it’s going to continue to be a struggle until the Bulls end up facing a soft frontcourt.
Pick: Suns -7 (-110)