Hornets at Bulls Betting Predictions | 9:00 PM ET
|Teams||Spread||Money Line||Total Points|
|Charlotte Hornets||+1 (-110)||-105||O 210 (-110)|
|Chicago Bulls||-1 (-110)||-115||U 210 (-110)|
The 28-29 Hornets travel to the United Center to take on the 24-34 Bulls on Thursday night. Charlotte has lost five of its last six games, including a 109-107 loss at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday to the surging Knicks. Chicago fell in Cleveland on Wednesday night 121-105 as they were unable to overcome getting outscored 34-12 in the opening quarter.
Charlotte received the good news this week that rookie phenom LaMelo Ball has been cleared for basketball activity and may be able to return late next week. And while that indeed is good news for the long term, the team is still riddled with injuries at the moment. Guard Gordon Hayward had 34 points in the first meeting with Chicago, but will miss this rematch as he is still nursing a right foot sprain. Although Devonte’ Graham was able to return to the lineup against the Knicks, the Hornets will still be without one of their best scorers off the bench in Malik Monk, who is recovering from a right ankle sprain.
The Hornets will have guard Terry Rozier in the lineup and he continues to have a great year, averaging 20.7 points per game while shooting over 40 percent from three-point range. Forward/center P.J. Washington had a big night on Tuesday when he scored 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting from the field, as Coach James Borrego has been turning to him more at center in a small-ball lineup. The 6-foot-7 Washington and Rozier will likely both need to have big nights on Thursday if Charlotte is to have any chance to pull off the small upset while shorthanded.
The Bulls have been led by All-Star guard Lavine, who is averaging 27.5 points per game. But Chicago will be without him again on Thursday as he is still missing time due to COVID-19 protocols. This puts the scoring pressure on trade deadline acquisition Nikola Vucevic, who is averaging 22.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per game in his first 17 games as a Bull.
The Hornets are likely to stick with rookie center Vernon Carey Jr. in the starting lineup on Thursday and that could lead to a monster game from Vucevic and another “Welcome to the League” moment for Carey. Also helping to fill the Lavine void has been guard Coby White has started the past four games and has averaged 17 points and 7.3 assists in those contests, well over his season average as a reserve. Chicago will need these two playing at their highest level if they want to get back into the win column.
This is a huge game for both teams as Charlotte sits in the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference and the Bulls sit in the 11th spot.
The No. 7-10 seeds earn the right to battle it out in a play-in series to make the playoffs and both teams are currently in the running for that. The Hornets are banged up, but sit only two games back in the loss column from Boston for the No. 6 seed that will be able to avoid the play-in games altogether.
So the motivation will be there from both sides. The biggest advantage Chicago has is Vucevic down low, but Vucevic came over from the Magic, so Charlotte is used to playing him four times a year. Expect Vucevic to have a big night, but the Hornets to not let anyone else beat them just enough to even the season series. Back Charlotte as short road underdogs in what should be a close game that they win in crunch time when Rozier, in particular, has been phenomenal this season.
*Odds courtesy of MyBookie