The Bulls have been playing some good defense over their last five games, but they are now tasked with playing in Denver on their third game in four nights. Will the Bulls have the energy to keep the defense going, or will Denver have no problem scoring on the Bulls? Let’s see their NBA odds.
Chicago Bulls vs. Denver Nuggets
Friday, March 19, 2021 – 09:00 PM EDT at Ball Arena
Bulls’ Defense vs. Nuggets’ Offense
The biggest test in this game to determine who will win or cover is the Chicago defense going against the Nuggets’ offense. Chicago has traditionally not been a very good defensive team this season. They play at a very fast pace, which lends itself to giving up a few more points than normal.
However, the Bulls have been shifting around their lineup over the last few games and Billy Donovan has unlocked some more defensive upside by going small and playing Lauri Markkanen at center and starting veteran, Thad Young, at power forward.
While that group hasn’t been great defensively, they have been getting some stops against teams lately. Over their last five games, the Bulls have allowed just 100.8 points per 100 possessions. Chicago is also very good defensively on the road this year. They give up 111.5 points per 100 possessions on the road, which ranks them in the top half of road defenses in the NBA.
With the Nuggets still missing two of their better guards in Gary Harris and Monte Morris, don’t be surprised if the Bulls keep this one close by way of their defense and forcing the pace of this one. However, if the Bulls are forcing the pace like they did in their last meeting with the Nuggets, their defense may not be up to task to cash the under here, especially if they are tired.
The Nuggets may be without two of their guards, but, regardless of personnel, Denver has been lights out on offense at home, both in the first half and full game.
The Sharp Pick
Denver is scoring 116.4 points per 100 possessions this season when playing at the Pepsi Center, which ranks them 5th-best in home scoring. A lot of that has to do with how good Nikola Jokic has been this season. With the Bulls going small and having a lot of trouble stopping post players this season, I bet Jokic has a huge game here.
However, tired legs and altitude can hurt defense as well, so with the Bulls playing their third game in four nights and playing against a more superior opponent than some of their previous five games, I’m not reading too much into their recent surge on defense. That’s why I’m banking on a high scoring first half from both teams. The Nuggets rank best in the league in first half home offense, scoring more than 120 points per 100 possessions.
Denver has an average of nearly 60 points per first half this season and if they get anywhere close to that average tonight, the first half total of 111 is going to fly over. The Bulls will want to push the pace as much as possible to force the Nuggets to play from behind, which will only lead to more buckets for both teams early.
The last time these two played they scored 117 first half points thanks to 62 from Denver. Now that they are playing at home, I think 60 or more is a given for Denver if they play up in pace for the first half.
The steam has been forcing this line down. While I somewhat agree with the movement for the full game line, the first half total is less than half of the full game, which is presenting some value on the over. Watch the NBA line and you might be able to get a better value than the 111’s we see on the board now. Still, it’s a nice play as is.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.