Bulls vs. Lakers NBA Pick – November 21st

I got another win on Monday night, as the Spurs covered their -9.5 point spread at home against the Atlanta Hawks. It was looking shaky for a little while, but LaMarcus Aldridge and co. had a nice second half and pulled away for a 96-85 win.

The victory pushed my NBA picks record to 3-2 on the year and hopefully you’ve been following along and profiting when I’ve nailed my picks.

Tonight brings an odd opportunity, as Tuesday offers just one game on the schedule. This gives me another chance to vent about the NBA’s atrocious scheduling. Bettors saw 11 games on Monday, will get just one today and a ridiculous 14 arrive on Wednesday. The lack of balance is bad for NBA betting and also creates a mess in daily fantasy circles.

Maybe that’s just me, but I find it annoying. Regardless, there is a game on the schedule today and with it being the only one, bettors will be looking for the best betting angle. Let’s break this game down to find out what angle that might be:

Chicago Bulls (+195) @ Los Angeles Lakers (-225) Total: 210.5

This could be an ugly game, whether just because these teams are young and don’t know how to perform on a high level consistently, or because the defense might be lacking. That’s been less the case for the Lakers on the year, however, as L.A. surprisingly sports the league’s 4th most efficient defense.

That’s the only real perk in this matchup, as both teams rank in the bottom 5 in terms of offensive efficiency, while the Bulls (25th) have one of the worst defenses in the NBA. Putting the Bulls on the road (1-7 outside of the United Center) only makes them harder to trust.

My favorite bet is the Lakers straight up. I wouldn’t mind waiting today and seeing if value opened up somewhere and I got a better Money Line. Right now the best one out there is -225 at BetOnline, while the -230 line at Bovada is the norm across most sites.

That won’t do it for me. As much as I like the Lakers (7-10 overall, 5-5 at home) in this spot, they’re still a young team that is tough to trust. They did just lose to the Phoenix Suns, after all. This is the type of line you snatch up if the Warriors are hosting someone and it feels like a lock.

Golden State at home in a game they should win for -225 or -230? Sure, I’ll hop on that. But the Lakers at anything over -165? What’s the point in that?

I just feel like that’s paying too much to back a less than reliable team for very little return. Instead, I’m going to talk myself into the Bulls at +190, consider either side of this spread or target the Total.

I’m not a big believer in the Bulls, though. Chicago is just 3-11 on the year, they’ve been atrocious on the road, they don’t defend and they’re entering with a bad 2-8 stretch over their last 10 games. Chicago could come in and get the big upset and return nice value, but that’s not a bet I’m enamored with.

You’re not getting any safety in the against the spread numbers, either. The Bulls are just 4-4 as road underdogs (6-7 ATS as underdogs, overall), while the Lakers haven’t been favored much at home (or in general) and are just 1-1 when expected to win at the Staples Center. All the data tells us is that the Bulls can sometimes be a little peskier than Vegas thinks. There is too much inconsistency there, however, so even in this setting I find that bet tough to trust.

I’m sure most will just throw caution to the wind and take the value with the Bulls or buy Chicago to beat the spread. For me, though, that’s not the best bet on the table. Chicago is a bad team and they’re on the road in a hostile environment. I don’t trust them to win and I’m not even sure I believe they’ll keep it close.

What I do feel good about, however, is this Total. Neither offense is overly reliable in terms of efficiency, but tempo sets this up to be a game with a good amount of points. Lonzo Ball has really played a big hand in pushing the Lakers’ offense this year and they enter tonight’s tilt with the NBA’s 3rd fastest pace.

Home teams tend to dictate the tempo of games, so I see this as being a faster game with a lot of shots. The more shots that go up, the more chances for both teams to score. As efficient as L.A.’s defense has been, their pace still gives way to a lot of scoring. Both teams are allowing over 104 points on average, while the Lakers are putting up nearly 106 points per game and giving up over 107.

This 211 Total is not too gaudy to chase. The Lakers have seen this Total go 3-0 in each of their last three games, while Chicago’s Total is 3-1 against this mark in three of their last four games. You can’t really trust the Lakers or Bulls individually, but together I think we get a fast-paced game with a good amount of scoring tonight. That should be good enough to get us 211+ total points.

Pick: Over 210.5 (-108)