Serge Ibaka on learning how to laugh from Kawhi Leonard pic.twitter.com/CNpHImAS7L
— The Render (@TheRenderNBA) November 16, 2018
The Bulls will be playing the game on the second leg of a back-to-back after taking on the Milwaukee Bucks on the road on Friday evening. Chicago is just 2-7 in their last nine games with their victories coming against the lowly New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers, who have a combined 6-23 overall record so far this year.
Raptors look to stop two-game slide in Chicago
Toronto will also be playing on the second leg of a back-to-back after taking on the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on Friday. The Raptors will try to get back on the winning track after they were upended by the Detroit Pistons and former head coach Dwane Casey, who guided Toronto to the No. 1-seed in the Eastern Conference and earned NBA Coach of the Year honors before getting fired following a disappointing postseason run. The Raptors were up by as many as 19 points against the Pistons, who battled back and eventually won the game 106-104 on a Reggie Bullock game-winner as time expired. The loss sent Toronto to their second straight defeat after riding a six-game winning streak.
Kawhi Leonard drives to the hoop with the game on the line in a tie game… pic.twitter.com/avFZCJ67Hx
— 🇨🇦Daaaaaaarryl🏀 (@DFSBBallGuy) November 15, 2018
First-year head coach Nick Nurse has the Raptors offense clicking on all cylinders to start the year, as Toronto comes into Friday’s matchup with the Celtics ranked third in the NBA in offensive efficiency with a 113.7 rating. They are also limiting teams to just 107 points per 100 possessions for the season, giving them a net rating of 6.7, which ranks fifth in the NBA and second in the Eastern Conference behind only the Milwaukee Bucks.
Markkanen close to returning to action for Bulls
Chicago lost its second straight game on Wednesday night, galling on the road to the Boston Celtics 111-82. Shaquille Harrison led the team in scoring with a career-high 16 points, while Jabari Parker added 14 and leading-scorer Zach LaVine was limited to just 10 points in a losing effort. The 10-point effort was LaVine’s lowest scoring output of the season and he’s shooting just 36.8 percent from the field and 24.4 percent from three-point range during the month of November.
Happy Friday, enjoy this Wendell Carter Jr. block montage pic.twitter.com/WMjrQHT7AD
— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) November 16, 2018
The Bulls got some encouraging news when second-year forward Lauri Markkanen moved one step closer to returning to action after it was reported that he has started to shoot three-pointers in practice without pain. Markkanen suffered an elbow injury in late September and was apparently still 2-4 weeks away from rejoining the Bulls, but his recent progress could put him on the shorter end of that timetable. Markkanen averaged 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game while shooting 36.2 percent from three-point range as a rookie.
Chicago enters the weekend scoring just 102.2 points per 100 possessions (28th in the NBA), while allowing 110.3 points per 100 possessions on the defensive end of the floor (24th in the NBA), giving them a net rating of -8.1 points per 100 possessions (27th in the NBA).
- Bulls are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Bulls are 1-8 ATS in their last 9 vs. NBA Atlantic.
- Raptors are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 Saturday games.
- Raptors are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games playing on 0 days rest.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Given the Raptors dominance in the East over the last few years, one would think that they’ve dominated this series as of late. However, that is far from the case. Instead, it is the Bulls who have covered the number in 13 of their last 16 meetings against Toronto and six of their last eight meetings in Chicago. Look for that trend to come to an end on Saturday, as the Raps have looked like the best team in the East so far this year. Take Toronto to cover the spread on the road in Chicago on Saturday night.
Prediction: Pick: Toronto Raptors
Full-Game Total Pick
These two teams have gone over the projected total in seven of their last eight meetings in Toronto and 21 of their last 29 meetings overall. Chicago has been awful on the defensive end of the floor this season and their effort on that end of the floor has been suspect at best this year. Both teams are coming off of a back-to-back, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see both teams give up a few extra easy buckets in transition. I’m leaning towards this game going over the projected total at the United Center on Saturday night.