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Celtics vs. Bulls NBA Pick – December 11th

Cleveland got it’s 13-game winning streak snapped by the Pacers, the Knicks lost by two in Chicago and my worst blow of late arrived in New Orleans last night. I took the Sixers and their +6.5 point spread, only to see them lose by exactly 7 points after Joel Embiid was a surprise late scratch.

I’m now riding an ugly three-game skid, but as you can see, luck has simply not been on my side. Normally I’d scream for a mulligan, but I’m sure many other people got burned by Embiid’s random inactive status, whether it be in NBA betting or DFS circles.

I never like to lose even one game, but when I hit a drought, it’s especially painful. It’s even worse when I’m so close to wins and/or get burned by the NBA’s awful reporting. There was zero inclination that Embiid (who rested on Saturday) was going to sit Sunday’s game out. Had he been on the court, I have to believe the Sixers beat the spread like I initially thought they would.

Still, a loss is a loss and I enter a new week with a middling 11-11 NBA picks record. All I can do is try to snap the skid with a win and Monday greets me with a palatable 6-game slate.

While an interesting slate, it’s still a small one with several odd spreads. The only one I can really get my head around is Boston, as the Celtics march into the United Center as -7.5 favorites at Bovada. I’m also somewhat interested in the Raptors (-5.5) at the Clippers, but they tend to not play as well as on the road. Boston feels like the more concrete bet and they also have the better matchup on paper.

Chicago is a really weird team to bet against right now, as they went into Charlotte and got a win and just won at home over the Knicks in their last game. The Bulls could offer upside at +250 considering they’re at home and seemingly starting to heat up.

Do I back the Celtics or roll with Chicago at home? Let’s dig deeper into this one to find out:

Boston Celtics (-7.5) @ Chicago Bulls (+7.5) Total: 199

I don’t think bettors should completely ignore what Chicago is doing right now. Kris Dunn has given them a budding star at the point guard position and the return of Nikola Mirotic rounds this team out offensively. They’re still missing Zach Lavine and are absolutely a young and raw overall product, but they also don’t have much quit in them.

The Bulls will be shooting for their third straight win and while I really don’t think they get it, they’re still a concern with a dangerous spread like this. Chicago just needs to keep it within 7 points and they’ve actually done a good job against the spread (12-12-1) overall.

The problem with the Bulls is their sample size of winning is quite small. Before ripping off their last two wins, they had won three games all year. It was impressive to get those wins, too, but let’s consider the circumstances. New York is still a middling team that was down a key scorer in Tim Hardaway Jr., while the Hornets are 9-16 and in the process of free falling (3-7 over their last 10 games). Wins are wins, but the Bulls didn’t take down elite teams or anything.

Tonight their task is much more difficult. They’ll try to keep their streak alive even though the Celtics have lost just 5 games all year and come in with a nasty 11-3 road record. Boston wields the league’s very best defense and has also proven to be quite dynamic offensively (12th in efficiency). None of that sounds good going up against a Bulls team that ranks 30th in offense and 27th in defense.

After all, even in their last two games, the Bulls needed OT in one and a last-second shot to win in the other. In both games, Chicago gave up at least 102 points, as well. Suffice to say, with a major jump in competition, logic suggests the Bulls don’t have a third straight close game on their hands.

Luck isn’t going to be on Chicago’s side this time and I’m curious to see how much the betting public trusts the Bulls in this spot. Boston is obviously a staggering matchup, but even on the road, I’m a little shocked I’m getting such great value in a -7.5 spread. Needless to say, it may make sense to jump on this early and never look back.

Boston’s against the spread data helps them here, too. The Celtics are a dominant 20-7-1 ATS overall, while they’ve held up their end of the bargain when backed by Vegas on the road (7-2 against the spread as road favorites).

From a matchup perspective, Al Horford’s perimeter game can help nullify Robin Lopez’s rebounding and interior defense by pulling him out. As solid of a defender as Dunn is, he’s really no match for Kyrie Irving at this point in his career.

Chicago doesn’t have competent defenders elsewhere on their roster, so it wouldn’t be shocking to see the likes of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and/or Marcus Smart have big games. Boston also has the outside defense to silence normally effective offensive role players like Lauri Markkanen and Justin Holiday, as well.

The history between these teams isn’t really relevant. These are totally different teams this year and Boston has morphed into a gritty unit that some would say is the best in the NBA. With that being the case and the matchup and ATS data as they are, I find it easy to back the Celtics to cover.

Update: Kyrie Irving has been ruled out for this game and Al Horford is questionable. I still like the Celtics to get the win (it sounds like Horford will play), but I very much prefer the price point of -5.5 if you can find it. BetOnline posted that price and that’s the price we’ll use for tonight’s game. There is an hour to spare before tip-off so hopefully people either got off the Celtics or are finding superior prices as the game draws closer. Good luck! In addition, I love the Raptors (-4.5 at BetOnline) tonight in L.A.

Pick: Boston Celtics (-5.5)

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