#706 Chicago Bullsvs.#705 Oklahoma City Thunder
Written by Chris Kubala
Oklahoma City Thunder (22-16 SU, 20-17-1 ATS, 17-21 O/U) vs. Chicago Bulls (19-18 SU, 18-19 ATS, 14-22-1 O/U)
NBA: Monday, January 9, 2017, United Center, Chicago, Illinois, 8 pm ET
Line: Chicago -2; Over/Under: 207
An inter-conference matchup of teams battling for playoff positioning takes place in the Windy City. The Oklahoma City Thunder is on the road as they take on the Chicago Bulls Monday night. Oklahoma City snapped a three game slide by defeating the Nuggets 121-106 at home Friday night. Chicago won their third in a row by rallying for a 123-118 overtime win over the Raptors Saturday night. The Bulls have a 72-69 advantage in the all-time series and won three of the last four matchups. That includes a 105-96 win on the road on December 25, 2015 in the most recent meeting.
Oklahoma City stopped their three game slide as they ran their way past the fun and gun Nuggets in a Northwest Division matchup. After being tied at the half, the Thunder outscored the Nuggets 61-46 in the second half to pull away. Oklahoma City hit 48.3 percent from the floor and banged in 12 of 36 three point attempts in the game. The Thunder kept the Nuggets in check, limiting them to 40.4 percent shooting from the field and 9 of 24 from beyond the arc. Russell Westbrook led the way for the Thunder with his 17th triple-double of the year as he put up 32 points, grabbed 17 rebounds and dished out 11 assists.
The Thunder is a good offensive unit this season as they are 8th with an average of 106.8 points per game. Oklahoma City is 4th in the league in rebounding with 45.7 boards per contest. The Thunder is 20th in assists with 21.5 per game. Oklahoma City is 18th in the league in scoring defense as they allow 105.3 points a night. Russell Westbrook leads the team with 31.4 points, 10.6 rebounds and 10.3 assists per game this season. Victor Oladipo contributes 16.2 points per game while Steven Adams chips in 12.2 points and 7.7 rebounds a night. Enes Kanter (13.7 points, 6.3 rebounds) and Domantas Sabonis are key big men in the rotation while Anthony Morrow, Andre Roberson, Kyle Singler and Jerami Grant are major pieces in the backcourt. Oklahoma City is tied for 10th in the league in field goal percentage as the team shoots 45.9 percent from the floor. The Thunder is 24th with 8.6 made threes per game and a measly 29th in three point shooting at 33 percent.
Chicago took down the top two teams in the Eastern Conference this week as they beat Cleveland earlier before taking down Toronto. The Bulls trailed by as many as 19 in the game and were down 12 after three quarters before forcing overtime. In the extra session, the Bulls pulled away to get the victory and stun the Raptors. Chicago overcame shooting 39.2 percent from the field and 11 of 28 from three point range. The Bulls were excellent at the line, cashing in 36 of 39 attempts at the stripe. Chicago also controlled the boards by a 60-41 margin as they were active in a physical game. Jimmy Butler put up 42 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and added five assists in the victory.
The Bulls come into this contest 23rd in the league with 101.8 points per game this season. Chicago is 1st in the league in rebounding with 47.8 boards per contest. The Bulls are 22nd in the league in assists with 21.1 dimes per game. Chicago is 6th in scoring defense as they allow 101.2 points a night. Jimmy Butler leads the team with 25.6 points plus 6.9 rebounds per game. Dwyane Wade averages 18.6 points plus 4.1 rebounds per game. Taj Gibson chips in 11.9 points plus 6.9 boards a night, Doug McDermott averages 10.4 points per game and Nikola Mirotic contributes 9.7 points plus 5.7 rebounds per game. Robin Lopez (9.1 points, 7.2 rebounds), Michael Carter-Williams, Rajon Rondo and Bobby Portis all are key pieces for coach Fred Hoiberg. Chicago is tied for 27th in field goal percentage by shooting 43.5 percent from the floor. The Bulls are last in the league by splashing 6.4 threes per game and is last in the league by shooting 31.5 percent from beyond the arc.
The Bulls have won three straight but one has to wonder if that win over the Raptors took something out of them. Butler has had to carry the team this week with 52 and 42 point performances. The matchup with him and Westbrook will be an entertaining one to say the least. Oklahoma City has to feel better after getting the win over the Nuggets to get back in the win column. The Thunder will utilize their depth and big men to get the win in a tough contest.
Chicago has surprisingly won three in a row as the win over Toronto was unexpected. Oklahoma City managed to stop their slide at three by handling Denver but the Thunder has to put together better performances on the road. Maybe having Oladipo back will help in that department as the team struggled with him out of the lineup. Chicago is battling in a crowded field in the Eastern Conference as they try to figure out who is going to be in and out of the rotation.
The Thunder has had the under hit in eight of their last nine Monday games. In addition, Oklahoma City has seen the under in four of their last five against Central Division foes, 12 off their last 15 on the road against teams with a home winning percentage of at least .600 and in seven of their last 10 after a straight up win. Chicago has gone under in six of their last seven at home against teams with a losing record and in nine of their last 12 against teams with a winning record. The under has appeared in five of the last six meetings between the teams in Chicago and in 10 of the last 14 meetings overall. That’s a solid trend history to work off of here.
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Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.