The Chicago Bulls travel north of the border on Thursday evening to take on the Toronto Raptors in a battle between two teams fighting to get into the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Bulls are coming off a 113-97 victory on the road over the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday, while the Raptors lost to the Los Angeles Lakers by a score of 110-101 on Tuesday. Chicago is currently in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, while Toronto is in 11th place. The top 10 teams get at least a play-in game to get into the NBA Playoffs. This is the second game of the season between these two clubs, with Chicago winning the first game by a score of 118-95 on March 14.
The Bulls are 27-21-1 against the spread this season, while the over-under is 23-26. Chicago has covered the spread in each of their last four games, including their 16-point win over Indiana in which they were a two-point favorite. The Raptors are 21-30 against the spread, while the total has gone over in 28 of their 51 games this season. Toronto has failed to cover the spread in their last two games and six of their last seven games. They were a one-point underdog in their nine-point loss to the Lakers.
Bulls look to increase lead over RaptorsIf the season ended today, the Chicago Bulls would play the Indiana Pacers in one of the play-in games to have a chance at the NBA Playoffs. They are currently two games ahead of Toronto, who is in 11th place. The Bulls have won their last two games, but they had lost six straight before that. Both of their recent wins have come against teams ahead of them in the standings, including an eight-point win over the Brooklyn Nets, who are 35-16 this season.
In their latest win over the Pacers, newly-acquired Nikola Vucevic, playing in just his sixth game with the Bulls after being traded from Orlando, had a monster game. The six-foot-11-inch center had game-highs in points and rebounds with 32 points and 17 rebounds. He also chipped in with five assists and was 4-7 from beyond the arc.
“He's very, very versatile and I think as he gets more comfortable with the guys he’ll become more and more efficient," coach Billy Donovan said on espn.com. ““I think he tries to play the right way and when you have a guy of his talent and he tries to play the right way, I think it becomes contagious."
Zach LaVine added 19 points, while Lauri Markkanen scored 15 points. A total of six players scored in double figures in the win. Chicago shot 46.8% from the floor and 42.4% from three-point range. The Bulls had a huge advantage in rebounding in the game, outrebounding the Pacers 57-33.
LaVine leads the way for Chicago with an average of 27.2 points per game this season, which is seventh-best in the NBA. Vucevic is averaging 22.7 points and 11.0 rebounds per game since joining the Bulls. Overall, he is averaging 24.3 points and 11.7 rebounds per game this season. Markkanen and Coby White are next in scoring with averages of 16.3 and 14.8 points per game, respectively. Chicago is scoring 112.6 points per game ths season, while they are shooting 47.9% from the floor and 36.9% from three-point range. Defensively, they are giving up 113.5 points per game, while their opponents are shooting 47.5% from the floor and 36.1% from three-point range.
Raptors looking to get back on trackBelieve it or not, but the Toronto Raptors actually had a winning record just a mere six weeks ago. Their train has derailed since they defeated the Philadelphia 76ers by seven points on February 21 that pushed their season record to 16-15. Since then, the Raptors have been an abysmal 4-16. They suffered through a nine-game losing streak from March 3-22. Toronto was 1-13 in the month of March. They have played better since the calendar switched to April, winning two of their last three games, but they still have a ways to go to be a contender. As if things weren't bad enough for Toronto, they will have to play Thursday's game without two of their top three scorers. Kyle Lowry (17.0 points per game) is out with a foot injury and Fred VanVleet (19.8 points per game) is sidelined with a hip injury.
In their loss to the Lakers on Tuesday, Toronto was blown off the court from the get-go, as they were outscored 68-42 in the first half. The Raptors were led by leading-scorer Pascal Siakam, who poured in 27 points in 41 minutes played. He was 0-6 from beyond the arc. Chris Boucher and DeAndre’ Bembry chipped in with 19 and 12 points, respectively. Toronto shot 39.6% from the floor and was just 5-33 (15.2%) from three-point range.
“I think we were up against a super-motivated team, to play better than they've been playing,” Toronto coach Nick Nurse said on espn.com. “And they saw we were coming off an emotional game last night. It's going to happen sometimes when a team makes a ton of threes, and you don't.”
Siakam is averaging 20.6 points per game this season, while Gary Trent, Jr. is averaging 15.9 points per game in his seven games since joining the team. OG Anunoby and Boucher add 14.6 and 13.3 points per game, respectively. The Raptors are scoring 111.9 points per game, while they are shooting 44.7% from the floor and 36.9% from three-point range this season. They are giving up 111.6 points per game, and their opponents are shooting 45.7% from the floor and 37.5% from three-point range.
- The Bulls are 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall
- The Bulls are 13-7 ATS in their last 20 games versus Toronto
Trends found on oddsshark.com:
- The Raptors are 1-6 ATS in their last seven games overall
- The Raptors are 1-4 ATS in their last five home games
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
The Chicago Bulls come into this game winners of their last two games, as they try and make a push for the playoffs. They defeated the Toronto Raptors by 23 points earlier in the season, and 52 of the Raptors' 95 points came from Norman Powell (who is no longer on the team) and Lowry (who is out for this game). Toronto is going to be without two of their top three scorers in this game, so look for the Bulls to run away with this game. The addition of Vucevic for Chicago gives them a dominant force in the paint, and he has made his presence know in his six games with the team, recording three double-doubles in his six games with the team. Look for him to dominate inside on Thursday, as the Bulls dominate the Raptors on the scoreboard.
Full-Game Total Pick
The first game of the season between these two teams totaled just 213 points back in March. Toronto has scored less than 105 points in four of their last five games, while Chicago has scored 106 points or less in six of their last nine games. The total has gone under in 11 of the Bulls' last 14 games, and six of the last eight meetings between these two teams. Toronto is going to be without two of their top three scorers, and Powell, who scored 32 points in the first meeting of the season between these squads. The last three meetings between Chicago and Toronto have averaged just 209.7 points per game. Look for a low-scoring game, with neither team getting out of the low-100's.