A pair of playoff teams meet when the Charlotte Hornets visit the Chicago Bulls for an 8 p.m. ET tip-off on Friday.
The Hornets (41-39) secured a play-in spot and, with two games to play, could move to as high as seventh from their current 10th place in the Eastern Conference.
Chicago (45-35) would need some help to move up or down from the sixth seed, sitting two games behind Toronto and two games ahead of Cleveland. This game probably means more for Charlotte as a result sitting one game back of the eighth and ninth spots.
The line opened at Chicago -2 with an over/under of 228. It has since moved to Bulls -2.5 with an over/under of 227.5 this season.
Chicago Bulls Betting Preview: Securing possessions
Charlotte will try to speed Chicago up, which would allow the Bulls to secure rebounds and turnovers. That would give their third-most efficient offense more opportunities.
Chicago scores 111.4 points per game, the 13th best mark in the league, but is even better in efficiency. They are third in field goal percentage at 47.9% and fifth in 3-point percentage at 36.6%.
Conversely, they are one of the worst teams in defensive efficiency, which is why the Bulls like to slow things down. Teams are scoring 111.6 points per game (16th) against Chicago and are converting 47.2% of field goal attempts (27th) and 36.5% of 3-point attempts (27th).
While Lonzo Ball is out for the season, most of the key players are good to go. Though rest may be a factor, Friday’s injury report includes Zach LaVine (probably, knee) and Alex Caruso (questionable, back).
Charlotte Hornets Betting Preview: Offense keeps rolling
The Hornets have an exciting young core who have figured it out on one end of the floor. Charlotte is fourth offensively, scoring 115.0 points per game. They are 10th in converting 36.2% of 3-point attempts and 12th in rebounding, pulling in 44.6 per game.
However, their defense has been porous, allowing 115.0 points per game (26th) and allowing teams to shoot 46.6% (20th) from the field and 36.1% (22nd) on 3-pointers. They also allow teams to grab 47.2 rebounds a game, which is the third-worst rate in the league.
Second-year guard LaMelo Ball has been exceptional, averaging 20.0 points, 7.6 assists, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game. Young wing Miles Bridges leads the team in scoring at 20.3 points per game and is second in rebounding at 7.0 per contest.
Charlotte is 43-35-2 against the spread this season with a 39-40-1 record on over/unders. The Hornets are 20-20 on the road.
Chicago is 41-38-1 against the spread this season and is 38-41-1 on over/unders. The Bulls have been exceptionally strong at the United Center, going 27-13.
This could quickly become a track meet, especially if there are live-ball turnovers. Chicago has fared well when it isn’t playing a top-three team in either conference, so we’ll pick the Bulls to cover -2 at home.
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