Malik Tz | Wed 26/10/2016 - 14:28 EDT

NBA Picks: Celtics vs Bulls Odds, Prediction and Live Score

NBA Picks: Celtics vs Bulls Odds, Prediction and Live Score
The season opener for Chicago Bulls features two teams which have undergone a paradigm shift during the offseason. New personnel on both squads fill gaping holes in their previous rosters, giving Boston and Chicago a solid chance to improve on last year's results.
My Team's Next MatchChicago Bulls

With the addition of Al Horford, the Boston Celtics look to become the official challengers to the eastern conference throne currently dominated by King James. As one of the more blessed franchises in the association, the time is now for the Celtics to take advantage of all their good fortune. The Bulls have managed to upgrade their roster by jettisoning oft-injured players like Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. Coach Hoiberg is tasked with making the most of off-season acquisitions such as Dwayne Wade and the mercurial Ramon Rondo.

Boston Celtics vs Chicago Bulls Pick

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There’s no doubt that Kevin Durant signing with the Golden State Warriors was the biggest move of the offseason. Considering that Boston desperately needed a starting big who can stretch the floor, landing Al Horford will improve the Celtics more than Durant will raise the Warriors. Genius coach Brad Stevens managed to devise devious schemes to create space for his superb smalls last year, and the addition of Horford will only deepen his bag of tricks.

The defensively challenged Bulls squad will have a tough time covering the Celtics offensive options. Neither Dwayne Wade nor Rajon Rondo are known for their spectacular defence, which will force Chicago bigs to help, creating more space for shooters like Horford and Olynyk. The Bulls offense features a solid array of playmakers and shooters, including Wade, Rondo, Mirotic, McDermott and Carter-Williams, but they’ll need to learn to defer to Jimmy Butler, who should be the undisputed heart of the team.

Even though Boston opens their season with back to back games, there’s no reason why they won’t be able to perform well against the Bulls, who will feature suspect defence and an offence which will likely require time to gel. Even better for the Celtics, they open their season with a home game against the Nets, which should be a relatively easy task for Boston.

If anything, the Bulls opener looks to be a lopsided affair. Chicago was in the middle of the league last year in terms of defensive rating and in the bottom third for offense. Compare that to the Celtics, who boasted a top-five defence and a top-ten offense last season. Expect the Celtics to quickly start the NBA season 2-0 while functioning like a well-oiled machine, taking advantage of the changing of the guard in Chicago.

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The Chicago Bulls are in a bit of a strange spot, not quite rebuilding but not quite in the position to be considered challengers in the east. There’s simply too many questions about the lineup, including whether or not there’s enough ball to share between Rondo, Wade, Butler and Carter-Williams. This quartet plays their best when they dominate the basketball, and Butler will rightfully demand the lion share of the possessions, which could reduce the effectiveness of the other three guards. Unfortunately for Fred Hoiberg, he’ll probably be fired if the Bulls don’t finish top five in the east.

Brad Stevens faces no such pressure in Boston, having made the most of his lineup since he took command of the bench in 2013. The Celtics look to finish at least second in the eastern conference standings once the 2016-17 regular season is over, ensuring they won’t have to face Cleveland until the eastern conference finals. With Horford joining a superb group of guards and forwards, they’ll have what it takes to challenge Cleveland and Toronto in the standings.

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