Low-Scoring Game Between Celtics and Bulls is the NBA Pick

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, January 7, 2016 10:46 PM UTC

Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016 10:46 PM UTC

In a matchup of teams heading in opposite directions, the continued absence of Avery Bradley of the Boston Celtics could key an ‘under’ visiting the Chicago Bulls on TNT Thursday.

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NBA Pick: Celtics, Bulls ‘under’ 204 

Best Line Offered: at Bovada


The ‘under’ could be the play in a nationally televised matchup of two teams heading in opposite directions Thursday night when the slumping Boston Celtics (19-16, 19-15-1 ATS) pay a visit to the red-hot Chicago Bulls (21-12, 14-19 ATS) at the United Center in Chicago, IL at 8:05 ET in a game televised nationally on TNT.

The posted total at 5Dimes is 204 for this contest with the current NBA odds on the ‘under’ set at -105.


Reversal of Fortunes Since Last Meeting
These teams combined for 205 points when they last met as the Celtics won 105-100 back in Boston on December 9th, but the teams have gone on different paths since then. Chicago has been the winning NBA pick 10 times in 14 games since that last encounter, leaving the Bulls in second place in the Central Division with their 21-12 record and only three games behind LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Celtics meanwhile have gone just 6-7 since that win over the Bulls in Boston, and they are a bit banged up right now as shooting guard Avery Bradley will miss his second straight game here with a hip pointer and point guard Isaiah Thomas is trying to battle through a bruised thumb. Thomas is playing through his injury, but the Boston offense always takes a hit when Bradley sits out as he will again tonight.


No Three-Point Threats
The Celtics were considered by some to be darkhorse candidates to win the Eastern Conference a few weeks ago before the current slump began, and they still have a chance to surprise some folks down the line provided Bradley can stay healthy the rest of the way once he comes back. After all, even with the recent erratic play, Boston remains only two games behind the two-time defending Atlantic Division Champion Toronto Raptors in the division race.

However, the reason Bradley means so much to the offense is that he is shooting 38.2 percent from beyond the three-point arc, and this is for a team that is ranked 26th in the NBA in three-point shooting overall. In other words, the Celtics have no reliable perimeter shooters when Bradley is on the shelf, allowing opposing defenses to sag inside with little fear of the remaining Celtic outside shooters.

Thus it is no coincidence that Bradley had missed four games this season and the ‘under’ is a perfect 4-0 in those games, including a 99-94 loss at home to the Detroit Pistons last night where the Celtics blew a 13-point third-quarter lead. It also helps the cause of the ‘under’ that the Celtics continue to play hard defensively under Coach Brad Stevens, ranking eighth in the NBA in points against at 99.0 per game and fifth in field goal percentage allowed at 43.0 percent.


Defense Still Good
Speaking of defense, the Bulls may be allowing more points this year under Fred Hoiberg than they did under former coach Tom Thibodeau, but much of that has to do with playing at a faster pace as the fact of the matter is that Chicago again leads the NBA in field goal percentage allowed at just 41.8 percent! The Bulls lead in two-point defense and rank eighth in three-point defense, translating to a sixth ranking in defensive efficiency.

Furthermore, that already stiff interior defense should be downright suffocating here unless some peripheral Boston shooter emerges and gets hot from the outside, forcing the Chicago defense to come out a bit and play a bit more honestly.

Granted the Bulls are averaging 102.2 points per game offensively, which is more than they ever averaged under the defensive minded Thibodeau, but as long as Chicago contains the Boston offense as well as we expect, we do not see the Bulls scoring enough points here to put this game ‘over’ with this fairly high posted total.


6-1 ‘under’ Run
Finally, the Celtics enter this contest on a 6-1 ‘under’ run overall and it has gone a perfect 6-0 in the last six Boston games inside the Eastern Conference. The ‘under’ is also 9-2 in the Celtics’ last 11 games vs. the Central Division, as well as 4-1 in the Bulls’ last five home games vs. teams with winning road records.

With two good defenses here and Bradley still out for the Celtics, look for those ‘under’ patterns to continue when Boston pays a visit to Chicago on the NBA on TNT Thursday.

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