A potential Eastern Conference playoff matchup gets a preview taste early in the season. The Celtics have picked up where they started after dominating the league from January to an NBA Finals loss to the Golden State Warriors.
They meet a Chicago Bulls team who was once atop the East last season but slipped, still making the playoffs. Now the Bulls entertain the Celtics at 8 p.m. ET Monday at the United Center in Chicago.
The line stands at Celtics -5 with an over/under of 223.5 points, which is up from the opening of 222. The Celtics are -210 on the moneyline to the Bulls at +175, which have changed from -186 and +166, respectively.
Celtics hope to stay perfect
The Celtics (3-0) have been favored in two of their games and are 2-1 against the spread, while the over is 2-1. The dynamic wing duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown has been incredible for this winning stretch, and now Boston has added much-needed depth to the backcourt.
Boston is seventh in scoring at 121 points per game and is the most efficient, converting 52% of field goal attempts. They are also eighth in 3-point percentage at 39.1$ and third in free throw percentage at 84.5%.
They were the top defensive team a season ago but are 17th, allowing 113.7 points per game, and the efficiency isn’t much better.
For Monday, Al Horford is questionable with a back injury. The Celtics are still without Robert Williams III till late in the year and Danilo Gallinari for the year.
Bulls look to get back in the win column
Zach LaVine is under load management to start the season for the Bulls (1-2). It’s been a struggle for Chicago on both ends of the court.
They are third worst in scoring at 104 points per game. Their efficiency is fourth worst at 42.2% from the field and the second worst at 29.3% from the 3-point range. They also rebound 39.7 times per game, the third worst in the league.
The pace has been one of the slower teams in the league, which shows a 15th ranking defensively at 112.7 points per game. The efficiency tells a different story as they are the worst team, allowing teams to convert 51.4% of field goal attempts and 46.9% of 3-point attempts.
They’re without Lonzo Ball till late December at the earliest, and he’ll help, but the unit must improve.
Celtics/Bulls Betting Prediction
The Bulls are 4-1 against the spread in the last five meetings, though the Celtics are 8-3 against the spread in the last 11 these teams have played in Chicago. The under is also 19-7 in the last 26 meetings in Chicago.
The under seems like a safe bet, given the pace these teams like to play at, and the offensive struggles of the Bulls. The public likes the Celtics (65% of bets) against the spread (-5), and that appears to be the wise play.
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