The Bulls, despite all of their struggles, are favored by 4.5 points. They're a very poor 13-18 SU overall and 12-19 ATS so far and will come up against an Atlanta squad that's 18-15 SU and 19-14 ATS.
No real shock to see a total as low as 189 on the NBA odds board. The UNDER has hit in five straight meetings between the teams.
Al Horford is out for the season, but the Hawks haven't packed it in at all. They've won three of five since he got hurt, which includes road triumphs over Boston and Charlotte.
Last night Atlanta lost by a point at home to Golden State, though backers were left pleased as they covered as three-point underdogs.
There wasn't one player that really stood out for the Hawks. They got an incredibly balanced effort from the team, with six different players scoring at least 12 points. Paul Millsap led the way with 12 points, 11 rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
A quick turnaround for Atlanta sees them having to head straight to the Windy City. The Hawks are just 6-10 SU on the road, while going an even 8-8 against the spread.
With Horford out, Mike Budenholzer has been experimenting with different lineups. Last night he started DeMarre Carroll and Pero Antic, but he's also tried out Elton Brand in the starting five. Antic acquitted himself nicely against the Warriors (16 points and seven rebounds), so there's a good chance he'll keep his spot for at least another night.
Darker days behind them, the Bulls have improved lately, going 4-2 SU (and ATS) in their previous six contests.
Two days ago they had no trouble getting past Boston in a 94-82 home win. Though they never really got anything going offensively (41.7 percent overall, 13.3 percent from three), they buckled down defensively by holding the Celtics to 39.5 percent shooting.
Joakim Noah, as usual, was chipping in all over the place. He racked up 17 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. Five other Bulls scored in double figures, including Taj Gibson (12) and Mike Dunleavy (11) off the bench.
The win pushed Chicago over .500 at home, as they're now 8-7 SU at the United Center. Still a mighty disappointing record, but any kind of positivity has been more than welcome for Tom Thibodeau's men this season.
We're starting to see the Bulls' excellent defense produce results – over their last five they've allowed only 88.2 PPG and overall this season they're ranked third in defensive efficiency (behind only Indiana and Oklahoma City), surrendering only 97.9 points per 100 possessions.
The Bulls are healthier these days, but do they deserve to be favored by this kind of number?
Maybe, maybe not, but we will be taking Chicago to cover as our NBA pick regardless.
For one, Atlanta has really struggled on back-to-backs this season. They're 2-5 SU and 2-5 ATS when playing their second game in as many nights. Meanwhile, the Bulls are a solid 8-6 straight up playing on one day of rest.
Getting Deng and Butler back has been a boost and we expect Chicago to build off their convincing win over the Celtics. We're taking a chance and going with the Bulls to cash as chalk.
Pick: Chicago Bulls -4.5