Bulls vs. Thunder Odds & Pick: Bet on the Bulls to Re-Ignite
Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Coby White #0 and Zach Lavine #8 of the Chicago Bulls.
- The Oklahoma City Thunder are slight favorites on Friday night when they host the Chicago Bulls.
- The Bulls were heroes in the betting community over their first 11 games, going 8-3 ATS, but the suspension of Tuesday's game slowed their roll.
- Kenny Ducey previews Friday's matchup and shares his betting pick below.
Bulls vs. Thunder Odds
|Bulls Odds||+1.5 [BET NOW]|
|Thunder Odds||-1.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+100 / -121 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||224.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
The Chicago Bulls were heroes in the betting community over their first 11 games, going 8-3 against the spread, but the suspension of Tuesday’s game has slowed their roll.
Welcoming them back will be the Oklahoma City Thunder, who have flashed the ability to keep up with some of the better offenses in the NBA, but ultimately lack the talent to win many games.
Will Chicago return to form and cover yet another spread, or will the defense be its undoing? Let’s dig into the numbers and see if we can find value in this game.
The Bulls have sort of been in limbo for a few days now, having Tuesday’s game against the Celtics postponed over COVID concerns and last playing all the way back on Sunday, in a loss to the Clippers. While a long layoff can sometimes hurt teams, it’s probably not the case here with the Bulls.
After showing some promise with four wins in five games, Chicago proceeded to drop three straight games in devastating fashion, by a combined nine points, to the Lakers, Clippers and Kings.
While just competing in these games is a good sign for the young Bulls, who were without Lauri Markkanen, arguably their best player, it can’t help but injure the mental fortitude of a team to lose three straight heartbreakers.
After getting plenty of time to rest up following his absence due to a back injury in the Bulls’ last game, Otto Porter Jr. is listed as probable against the Thunder, while Garrett Temple popped up on the injury report with an ankle sprain.
Markkanen and Ryan Arcidiacono have reportedly been practicing in full and are supposedly on track to be ready for this one per our NBA Insiders injury dashboard. They’ll likely be very limited — Markkanen in particular — as Chicago tries to work them back into the rotation.
While the Thunder had a nice little run of four wins against the spread in five games end earlier this week, the Bulls are the cover kings of the NBA. Chicago has covered in five straight and in eight of its past nine. It makes sense, considering the Bulls have had each of their past four games decided by three points, as does the fact that Friday’s opening line was set at Bulls +1.
The Bulls have done two things very well this season. They’ve shot the ball with great success, ranking seventh in effective FG% with a mark of 55.3%, and they’ve locked down the interior behind Wendell Carter, Jr., allowing just 42.9 points per game in the paint, good for ninth in the NBA.
That will play a bit into the hands of the Thunder, who have done a decent job defending the perimeter this season — something the Bulls have not done well this season.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder’s offense has struggled all season after the departures of Chris Paul and Steven Adams, leaning heavily on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to get as many buckets as he can.
According to NBA Advanced Stats, SGA leads the team with a 26.5% Usage Rate, and you’ll have to go down to 19.6% to find the second-most relied upon option on the team (minimum 25 minutes), which is Al Horford. The veteran big man has shot a very poor 41.8% from the field this season, which would be a career low, and just 32% from deep.
All this is to say, the Thunder haven’t exactly had a fun time trying to score the basketball this season, ranking second-to-last in the league with just 103 points per 100 possessions, and it’s due to a lack of options, frankly.
Aside from Gilgeous-Alexander, who’s great, they’ve had to give an aging Horford 10 shots per game, and the guy taking the third-most shots on the team is Darius Bazley, who shoots below 39% from the floor and played just 18.5 minutes last season.
Speaking of Bazley, he may not even be fit enough to suit up in this one, entering the game with a questionable tag thanks to a right ankle sprain. If he doesn’t play, OKC may dust off Isaiah Roby, a second-round pick last season.
The role players on this team aren’t exactly attractive, but they’ve been surprisingly effective in certain spots for the Thunder. Oklahoma City ranks 13th in bench scoring this season, and only three benches have grabbed more rebounds per game than OKC’s.
Hamidou Diallo in particular has had a huge impact on the second unit, averaging the second-most points on the team at 12.2 despite playing just 21 minutes. The bench for Oklahoma City has allowed them to have success in the second and third quarters this season, where they’ve both defended and scored better than the first and fourth.
On paper, the Bulls should be the favorites here, but with so much time off and some uncertainty surrounding whether or not Markkanen will play, it’s understandable that the books are being skeptical here.
Let’s get one thing straight: The Bulls have been very, very fun to watch on offense, but they’re also allowing the second-most points per 100 possessions at 115.9. That kind of liability would entice me to take the over, but this Thunder team simply has no one who can score.
Horford should succumb to this halfway-decent interior defense of the Bulls, and if Markkanen and Arcidiacono are able to play, even for 20 minutes, they will bring some much needed defensive energy to this team as two of the best on that side of the floor.
Still, Chicago’s offense has an abundance of shooters, and I’ll ultimately side with them as the best weapon in this game. Without the layoff, I think this sets up as a smash spot on a Chicago team brimming with excitement and ready to bounce back after a few tough losses in a row, but it’s a big question mark whether or not they’ll come out flat here.
The Bulls are battle tested, they’re 8-3 against the spread, and the Thunder are lacking the talent to keep up with them. As an added bonus, the Bulls also fit one of our Bet Labs PRO systems on Rested Road Teams, which has a 59% win rate and 15% ROI:
After a nice start to the year, Oklahoma City is beginning to fall back down to earth, and it continues with a loss at the hands of Chicago.
Pick: Bulls +1.5 (-110)