Lakers vs. Bulls Odds & Picks: Back Los Angeles Against Cover Machine
Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: LeBron James.
- The NBA's best team faces the NBA's best record ATS when the Los Angeles Lakers take on the Chicago Bulls.
- The hosts are coming off of a hard-fought win over the Hornets, while the visiting Lakers had a night off on Friday.
- Matthew Trebby breaks down this matchup and shares his betting pick below.
Lakers vs. Bulls Odds
|Moneyline||-405 / +320|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
We have the NBA’s best team facing off with the league’s best team in a gambling sense.
The Lakers are rolling, but the Bulls are a cover machine. The unstoppable force meets the immovable object. Something has to give.
Los Angeles Lakers
In the words of Tina Turner, the Lakers are simply the best.
Los Angeles entered play on Friday ranked fifth in Offensive Rating and first in both Defensive Rating and Net Rating. The Lakers also lead the NBA in Rebounding Percentage.
Frank Vogel’s team has won 10 of its last 12 games after starting 2-2, and it would be on a seven-game winning streak entering this game if it wasn’t for a sensational second-half comeback by Golden State last Monday.
LeBron James is off to a stellar start to the season, playing just 32.6 minutes per game (would be a career low) but still averaging 24.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 7.6 assists. His 39.6% mark from 3-point range would be his highest since 2012-13. (Remember those days, back with the Heat?)
Los Angeles started a seven-game road trip through the Eastern Conference with a 7-point win over the Bucks on Thursday night. James dropped 34 points, eight assists and six rebounds, and his co-star on the evening was Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who shot 7-of-10 from 3-point land.
The Lakers are 8-0 on the road this season and, more importantly for this preview, 6-2 away from home against the spread (ATS).
While Chicago entered Friday ranked in the middle of the pack in Offensive Rating (13th), it has been let down by a 28th-ranked defense under first-year head coach Billy Donovan. This is the opposite of last season, when Chicago ranked 29th offensively and ninth on defense.
The Bulls have had to deal with some COVID-19 restrictions this season to key players, but that doesn’t excuse the poor defensive play. Eight of nine players entered Friday night’s win over Charlotte averaging more than 20 minutes per game this season have a Defensive Rating of 111.9 or higher. You don’t want to be that high ever.
There are a few specific reasons for concern entering this matchup.
First off, the Bulls allowed the Hornets to shoot 67.3% from inside the 3-point arc on Friday. Not encouraging ahead of a matchup with two interior forces in James and Anthony Davis.
Secondly, Los Angeles had Friday night off. Although this season, that hasn’t been a bad thing for the Bulls.
With its win on Friday night, the Bulls are an NBA-best 11-4 ATS this season. Also, this will be the fourth time they play the back end of a back-to-back set. Chicago has covered in all three of those games against Golden State, Sacramento and Houston. (The Bulls are 1-2 outright in those games.)
But let’s be real here: The Lakers are rolling. Plus, while the Bulls poured their hearts into taking down the Hornets on Friday night, the Lakers were enjoying a socially distanced wine night at some posh Chicago hotel, relaxing and probably having a hearty laugh at just how good they are.
Chicago lost by only 2 to the Lakers earlier this season on the road, but Davis wasn’t active for that matchup. I expect Los Angeles to overwhelm the Bulls’ frontcourt with James and Davis in the paint en route to yet another comfortable win on their road trip through the Eastern Conference.
Pick: Lakers -9 (up to 10.5)