Both teams look like they're headed toward the playoffs, and both are hot, combining to go 8-2 since the All-Star break.
Dallas is favored by a point or so more than the standard NBA home-court advantage. Should we give the points here, or take 'em?
The Betting Line
Most NBA betting outlets we surveyed opened this game with Dallas favored by 4.5 points, the total proffered at 193. But while the spread held steady in the early betting, the total dropped to 191.
For those who might be thinking about eschewing the pointspread, the Mavs could be found at around -180 on the NBA moneyline, with Chicago getting around +165 to win this game outright.
Chicago is 4-1 since the All-Star break, the only loss coming Sunday at Miami. Tuesday the Bulls won at Atlanta 107-103, and Wednesday they beat Golden State back at the United Center 103-83.
Chicago only shot 45 percent from the floor Wednesday, but held the high-powered Warriors to just 36 percent shooting. The Bulls trailed that game early, but charged to a big lead with a 69-35 run, on their way to winning outright as three-point home dogs.
So Chicago, at 31-26, sits in fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings, a half-game behind third-place Toronto.
Dallas is also 4-1 since the break, riding a four-game winning streak. Most recently the Mavs beat New Orleans at home Wednesday night 108-89, shooting 52 percent from the field, covering as six-point favorites.
Dallas trailed early in that game by eight points, but pulled away after Pelicans C Anthony Davis left in the second quarter with a shoulder injury.
The Mavs, at 36-23, occupy sixth place in the West, 3.5 games out of fourth place but also only 2.5 games ahead of ninth-place Memphis.
Dallas won the first meeting between these teams this season back in December in Chicago 105-83, covering as two-point road favorites. The Mavs were hot that night, hitting at a 53 percent clip from the floor, making 13 of 26 shots from beyond the arc.
Dallas led that game by 11 after the first quarter and by 32 at one point in the second quarter, cruising from there.
Last year these teams split their two games, each winning on their home court.
Bulls-Mavs By the Numbers
Chicago ranks just 28th in the league this season in shooting at 43 percent, 27th in 3-point accuracy at 34 percent but eighth in free-throw shooting at 77.5 percent. The Bulls also rank second in FG defense at 43 percent, and third in rebounding at +4 per game.
Dallas ranks fourth in FG shooting at 47 percent, sixth from long range at 38 percent and second in FT shooting at 80 percent. Those free throws can come in handy when trying to cover a pointspread.
However, the Mavs also rank 27th in FG defense, allowing foes to shoot 46.5 percent, and 23rd in rebounding at -2 per game.
Chicago is 14-16 SU, 15-15 ATS on the road this season.
Dallas is 19-9 SU but only 13-15 ATS at home this season.
Chicago has tilted toward the UNDERS this season by a 34-23 margin, as Bulls games have averaged a league-low 185 total points.
Dallas is 32-27 on the totals this season, as Mavs games have averaged 207 points.
Dallas F Dirk Nowitzki left Wednesday's game in the first quarter after hurting his shoulder, but later returned and ended up scoring 18 points in 27 minutes. He is expected to play Friday night, but we wonder how he'll hold up if the Bulls bang him around a few times.
Free NBA Pick
Dallas has the edge on offense in this match-up, while Chicago owns the edge on defense. But the Bulls have been better recently at throwing the ball in the hole, hitting triple-digits in three of their last four games.
The Mavs blew out Chicago in the first meeting this season, putting on one of those shooting performances they're capable of almost any time out. Something leads us to believe the Bulls might play a little tougher defense Friday night.
So we're leaning toward Chicago for our free NBA pick for Friday. And since we like to gamble, we'll forgo the points and take the Bulls on the moneyline, getting +165 at The Greek.