The daily preview it to the rim with NBA tips for an Eastern Conference showdown between playoffs-bound duo Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls.
10:00 (AEST), Thu 7th Apr @ United Center, Chicago
History: Played 258: Celtics 146 V Bulls 112
Last meeting: January 15, 2022: Celtics 114 d Bulls 112 at TD Garden
Final Thoughts: Boston Celtics are aiming to consolidate the Eastern Conference’s second seed, while Chicago Bulls have an eye on moving up a spot as the regular season winds down.
The Celtics head a three-team logjam with 49-30 records. They have won 15 of 19 games since the All-Star break, including their last two against the Pacers (128-123) and Wizards (144-102). Jaylen Brown top-scored with 32 points in both victories. Brown (knee), Jayson Tatum (knee) and Al Horford (back) are all listed as probable for this clash.
There is still an outside chance the Celtics finish with the top seed. They’d need to win all three remaining games and the Heat to lose both of theirs.
The 45-34 Bulls are sixth in the East, one game shy of the Raptors. But they have been on the ropes for some time, winning only six of their last 19. They went down to the Heat (127-109) and Bucks (127-106) in the past four days – despite 40 points from DeMar DeRozan in the latter. Zach LaVine (knee), Javonte Green (quad), Derrick Jones Jr (knee) and Matt Thomas (leg) are all probable to take on the Celtics. But Alex Caruso is doubtful, while Lonzo Ball has been ruled out for the season.
The teams have split their two encounters so far this season, both played in Boston. DeMar DeRozan (37 pts, 6 reb) and Zach LaVine (26 pts, 7 ast) spearheaded a 128-114 Bulls victory in November. Jayson Tatum (23 pts, 12 reb, 4 ast) was the standout in a 114-112 Celtics eclipse in January, with six Boston players scoring 13-plus points.
The Bulls are an outstanding 27-12 at home this season, winning three of their last five at United Center despite their poor overall form of late. The Celtics are 21-17 on the road after winning 12 of their last 14 away.
The decisive stat here, though, is that the Bulls are 1-13 against the top four teams in the East – with the sole win against the Celtics in the first fortnight of the season. Boston’s top-ranked defence should be too much for a foundering Bulls side that has topped 110 points just once in their last 12 games.
Best Bet: Handicap – Celtics -7.5 @ $1.95
Same Game Multi: Margin – Celtics 11+; Total – Under 224.5; Jaylen Brown Points – Over 25.5; DeMar DeRozan Points – Under 26.5 @ $16.37