The Celtics host the Bulls Monday night in the second of three meetings between these teams this season. The Celtics won the first matchup 119-103 in Chicago on January 25th.
The Bulls are coming off of a 106-96 win over the Cavaliers on Saturday while the Celtics are also looking to build on their own 119-114 win over the Warriors on Saturday. These teams are trending in opposite directions as the Bulls have lost five of their last six games while the Celtics are riding a six-game winning streak.
Can Young Bulls White and Markkanen Step Up?If the Bulls win and cover as road underdogs, they need their secondary scorers to step up alongside Nikola Vucevic as leading scorer Zach LaVine (health and safety protocols) remains out on Monday.
The Bulls have gotten consistent play from their best players Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic lately, but players like Lauri Markkanen and Coby White will need to step up to pull the upset. Markkanen and White in particular have the ability to score in bunches, but they have been too inconsistent for the Bulls over their young careers.
Bulls 106, Cavaliers 96— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) April 18, 2021
Bulls snap 5-game skid
Vucevic 25 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists
Markkanen 16 points, 6 rebounds
White 8 points, 9 assists
They each have some momentum to build on after Markkanen scored 16 points in Saturday’s win and got a rare opportunity to be a part of Chicago’s closing lineup. White struggled on Saturday, but he eclipsed 26 points for just the third time this season as he scored 27 points on just 17 shots against the Grizzlies on Friday. With LaVine out and White getting more usage, he has stepped up as a distributor with 16 total assists (to five total turnovers) over the last two games.
Other role players will also need to step up for the Bulls to pull the upset. With White and Vucevic as the main playmakers on Monday, the Bulls will need shooters like Denzel Valentine, Garrett Temple, Daniel Theis, and Patrick Williams to make the most of their open looks.
The Bulls will also need to limit their turnovers and end their possessions in shots against the Celtics. The Bulls offense ranks seventh in effective field goal percentage, but they are 16th in offensive efficiency (112.4) because they rank 26th in the NBA with a 15.2% turnover rate. If the Bulls can take care of the basketball, they should have a great shot of covering even without LaVine if one of their young scorers gets hot alongside Vucevic.
Tatum Bringing Home the BaconIf the Celtics win and cover, they will need Jayson Tatum to continue elevating his game while at least one of Marcus Smart or Kemba Walker plays well. Kemba Walker (illness) and Jaylen Brown (illness) are questionable while Jayson Tatum (ankle) is probable. Evan Fournier (COVID-19 protocols) and Robert Williams III (knee) are both out on Monday.
Tatum and Jaylen Brown are having career seasons as the All-Star duo has scored with above-average efficiency (among their respective position groups, per Cleaning The Glass) at the rim, in the midrange, and from beyond the arc. Both scored at least 40 points in the Celtics’ last two games while continuing to play solid defense. Tatum continues to impress as he improves his all-around game with more moves to get to the basket while making strides as a distributor.
🚨NEW WORDS ALERT🚨— (Nuh-KY-us) Duncan (@NekiasNBA) April 16, 2021
Jayson Tatum is starting to fill in the gaps of his game, and frankly that should terrify everyone.https://t.co/uVi2NFLAzn
The Celtics will need quality point guard play to elevate the play of role players. Walker is not only valuable as a scorer, but he also puts pressure on the defense by forcing them to stretch the floor and makes reads off of the defense to give teammates like bigs and shooters quality looks that they cannot otherwise get for themselves. Boston’s bench has gotten exposed without Gordon Hayward this season, and it needs its point guards to elevate role players’ level of play with Evan Fournier out due to COVID-19 protocols.
- Bulls are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 Monday games.
- Bulls are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games overall.
- Bulls are 4-11 ATS in their last 15 games vs. a team with a winning straight-up record.
- Celtics are 4-0-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
- Celtics are 12-2 ATS in the last 14 meetings with the Bulls.
- Celtics are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 Monday games.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
After starting the season slowly as Tatum, Walker, and Smart were all sidelined with injuries or COVID-19, the Celtics are playing their best basketball as these three are finally in rhythm. The Celtics are trending up as their leading scorer, Tatum, continues to improve. On the other hand, the Bulls are trending down, and their best player is out due to COVID-19 protocols. Over the last month, the Celtics rank sixth in both net rating (+4.8) and spread differential (+2.5) while the Bulls are 24th in net rating (-4.3) and 27th in spread differential (-3.1). As long as at least two of Tatum, Walker, and Brown play, take the Celtics to win and cover.
Full-Game Total Pick
With LaVine out and several key Celtics players’ statuses uncertain, the value is on the under. The Celtics also have significant role players out as Williams is their best big man (and an underrated distributor) and Fournier is their best shooter. Even if the Celtics have all three of Tatum, Walker, and Smart healthy, there is value on the under with there being a smaller margin for error on both sides with LaVine and others absent.