The Raptors have won three of their last four but could be without their floor general tonight in the Windy City. The NBA odds favor Chicago at home tonight, but is that the right play?
The Bulls are favored by one and a half points at a majority of the top sportsbooks, with Chicago at right around -115 on the moneyline and Toronto at +105 or so.
It looks like the total has opened at 198 points, which seems reasonable considering both teams are ranked in the top half of the league in terms of points scored per game. The Raptors have been especially sound offensively, ranking fourth by putting up 104.5 points per contest thus far this season.
Having lost two straight and four of their last five, the Bulls were desperately in need for a win, and they rose to the occasion and then some on Wednesday in a dominant showing against the Pacers. Chicago was a small favorite on the NBA Odds board but absolutely crushed the lines in the 17-point victory.
The Bulls weren't ruthlessly efficient offensively by any means, shooting 41.5 percent from the floor despite going over the century mark. However, they were excellent defensively and swarmed Indiana into submission. Individually, Pau Gasol had 19 points and 12 rebounds, Mike Dunleavy put up 21 points, Joakim Noah threw up six points, 14 rebounds and seven assists, while Nikola Mirotic came up huge off the bench, racking up 25 points, nine rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks in the win.
The Pacers have been one of the hottest teams in the NBA lately, so it's a win that shouldn't go unnoticed. However, Chicago gets another stern test tonight, this time against one of the best squads in the Eastern Conference. It looks like Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson will miss out again tonight, so Mirotic will continue to get a ton of run and the likes of Gasol, Dunleavy and Aaron Brooks will need to keep producing the good offensively in their absence.
The Raptors will come in having won two games in a row, as they first demolished Indiana by 19 on the road before returning home to beat Minnesota by five on Wednesday night.
The game was probably a little closer than Toronto would have liked, but at least the home team made enough plays to get the W, and that's all that really matters in the end. Jonas Valanciunas had a big game with 15 points and 15 rebounds, but it was essentially the DeMar DeRozan show, as he went for 21 points to go with seven rebounds and four assists. Kyle Lowry was having a solid game before having to leave with an injury, and he's currently listed as questionable for tonight's contest against Chicago.
Should Lowry miss out, more onus would fall on DeRozan, while Greivis Vasquez and Lou Williams would also find themselves with larger roles. Regardless, Toronto struggled when Lowry missed time earlier this season, so they'd love to have him available.
The Bulls were kind to us the last time we picked them and we're going right back to the well with them again tonight.
Chicago has been solid wherever they've been playing (21-14 at home, 20-14 on the road) and will be taking on a Toronto squad that's just three games over .500 when playing on the road. However, the main reason we like the Bulls is the uncertainty surrounding Lowry, who has been an integral part of the Raptors' success this season.
Assuming Lowry can't go, we have a hard time seeing Toronto keep up this evening. Chicago looked great against a surging Indiana team the other day and we expect them to keep that momentum going with another solid home victory. Back the Bulls at the short number with your NBA picks.
NBA Pick: Chicago Bulls -1.5 at BetOnline