NBA Odds & Picks for Spurs vs. Bulls: Fade Chicago on a Tough Back-to-Back (Wednesday, March 17)
Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: The Chicago Bulls.
- The Chicago Bulls will host the San Antonio Spurs Wednesday on the second led of a back-to-back.
- The Spurs will be missing their star, DeMar DeRozan, but Austin Wang expects fatigue to be a bigger factor.
- He previews the matchup and explains why he there's value on the Spurs below.
Spurs vs. Bulls Odds
|Moneyline||+100 / -118|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
On Wednesday evening, the Chicago Bulls host the San Antonio Spurs in the second game of back-to-back set. Both teams have been outperforming expectations and it could be a good showcase of some solid young talent between two evenly matched teams.
The Bulls should be brimming with confidence after two 20-plus point margin victories at home and carry some momentum into this game. The Spurs, however, will be without their leading scorer DeMar DeRozan.
On paper, it may be tempting to take the Bulls, but I think there is value on backing the Spurs on the road.
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs have gone through a weird stretch of weeks. They had a 10-day hiatus from Feb. 14 through Feb. 24, as several players were recovering from COVID issues and games were canceled due to contact tracing.
Since then, there have been players sitting sporadically, which has lead to shuffling lineups. LaMarcus Aldridge and the Spurs have mutually agreed for him to sit while they seek a trade for him. DeRozan is out for personal reasons as he is grieving the death of his father. The inconsistency has created some mixed results, with San Antonio alternating wins and losses.
Despite their strange February, the Spurs are still 20-16 and seventh in the Western Conference, exceeding their preseason expectations. Head coach Gregg Popovich and his staff continue to extract value from players like Lonnie Walker IV, Dejounte Murray and Keldon Johnson, who were are all late first-round draft picks that have blossomed into solid players.
Without DeRozan, the Spurs' offense will take a hit. However, with Derrick White returning from injury recently and taking his minutes, I think the Spurs defense will be stacked and even has the potential to improve on the eighth-best Defensive Rating (109.7) in the league, per NBA Advanced Stats.
Since Jakob Poeltl was inserted into starting line-up on Feb. 3, the Spurs rank third in Defensive Rating (108.3) in the league. The big man is a difference maker on the floor.
The Spurs protect the ball and average the fewest turnovers in the league. Per NBA Advanced Stats, they’re No. 1 in Assist-to-Turnover Ratio (2.19). The ball movement and efficiency on offense should help against the Bulls’ subpar defense.
On the other hand, the Bulls rank last in turnovers in the league. I think the Spurs should be able take advantage of the turnover-prone Bulls while they are on their second game of back-to-back set.
The Spurs have some interesting home/away splits. They are a mediocre 9-10-1 against the spread at home this season, but they are 10-6 ATS on the road, per our Bet Labs tool.
Billy Donovan has this young squad playing solid basketball. They've welcomed back Lauri Markkanen from injury, a versatile big man who can really make it rain from downtown. The Bulls come off a dominating win on Tuesday evening against the Oklahoma City Thunder, walking away with a 21-point victory.
They were led by Zach LaVine, who had 40 points on 15-for-20 shooting from the field and hit seven 3-pointers. I don't imagine he will have as much success against pesky defenders like Murray and White. In home games after LaVine has scored at least 30 points in the previous win, his team has gone 2-13-1 ATS (13.3%), per the Sports Data Query Language database.
The Bulls will be on the second night of a back-to-back at home and, interestingly enough, there are some stark differences in their home/away splits. They are 13-3 against the spread on the road, but 9-12 ATS at home, per the SDQL database.
The Bulls are on the last game of a five-game homestand and they are playing their fifth game in seven days. This season, home teams playing their fifth game in seven days versus an opponent with at least one day of rest are 0-8 ATS, per the SDQL database.
Since the 2019-20 season, home teams off two consecutive home wins and are playing their next game on the road have gone 24-43-2 (35.8%) ATS, per the SDQL database. This is active on the Bulls and I think this situation sets up for a let-down spot for the complacent home team before they head on the road.
My pick for this game is to back the well-rested Spurs against the Bulls who have been through a gauntlet of games since their return from All-Star Break. I think the fatigue will really set in for the Bulls tonight and their comfortable wins could make them complacent for this final game as they look ahead to a road trip.
On the other hand, I think the Spurs young crew are eager to step up and shine in DeRozan and Aldridge's absences. I think their strong defense will make life tough for the tired Bulls.
With these situational factors in mind, I believe the wrong team is favored. I make the line on this game Spurs -3 and I predict they handle the Bulls rather easily 112-102.
Also, according to our Bet Labs tool, the Spurs are an incredible 14-2 ATS in first half spreads this season on the road, so I will be on the Spurs 1H spread as well.
Pick: Spurs +1.5 (up to -2)