Chicago Bulls (9-14) at Boston Celtics (20-3), 7 pm Eastern Friday, ESPN
by Zman of Predictem.com
The Chicago Bulls will look to continue their recent improvement, but they’ll have to do it against the team with the best record in the league when they visit Beantown to take on the Boston Celtics in the opener of an ESPN/NBA double-header Friday night.
NBA betting boards list Boston as 10-point home favorites for Friday night’s game, with a total of 182. Also, the Celtics are posted at from -540 to -650 on various Vegas moneylines, with Chicago getting from +420 to +450 as road underdogs.
The Bulls started this season 2-10, but have won seven of their last 11 games after winning in Washington Wednesday 95-84. But Chicago still brings up the rear in the Central Division, eight games back of the first-place Detroit Pistons.
Boston, meanwhile, is off to a 20-3 start. But the Celts had a nine-game winning streak stopped when they lost to Detroit Wednesday 87-85, their first home loss of this season. Nonetheless, Boston leads the Atlantic Division by seven games over the second-place Toronto Raptors.
The Bulls have been brutal to their financial backers so far this season, going 8-15 against the spread. Chicago is also just 4-8 both straight up and ATS on the road.
On the other side of the ledger, the Celtics are 15-7 vs. the numbers this season, and 12-1 SU and 9-4 against the spread at home. Also, Boston is 9-0 straight up and 5-3-1 ATS when favored by 10 or more points.
Coming into this season, the Bulls had beaten the Celtics eight times in a row. But all that was BKG Before the arrival of Kevin Garnett. In the first meeting this season between these two teams, Boston won in Chicago 92-81 two weeks ago, as the Celts outshot the Bulls from the floor 52% to 36% and outboarded them 45-37.
Statistically speaking, it’s no wonder Boston is off to the start they are. The Celtics lead the league in per-game point differential at +13.5, rebounding at +4 per game and field-goal defense at 41%. Also, Boston is shooting 48% from the field as a team, 38% from 3-point range and 77% from the free-throw line.
On the other side, Chicago ranks dead last in the league by shooting 41% from the floor. The Bulls are also shooting just 32% from long range and 76% from the line, rank 21st in point differential at -3.3 per game, 12th in rebounding at +1.3 per game, and 8th in FG defense at 44.5%.
The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com ranks the Celtics 1st at 101.7, Chicago 22nd at 86.3.
On the injury front, Bulls F Ben Wallace, who missed Wednesday’s game with a bad foot, is listed as questionable and doubtful for Friday’s game.
The o/u is 10-13 in Chicago games this season, which are averaging 188 points per, while the totals are 7-15 in Boston games, which are averaging 187 points.
Zman’s Pick: Take the Bulls at +9.5.