The Toronto Raptors will play host to the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night and both teams need to start putting together some wins before the playoffs and play-in tournament get out of reach.
For the Raptors, they desperately need this one to build some momentum. This is their second game in the post-Pascal Siakam era. They won the first battle on Wednesday against the Miami Heat without their star forward after four straight losses before that.
Bet on Bulls vs. Raptors
Let’s take a closer look at this matchup, each team, and the bets to consider.
Bulls vs. Raptors odds
|Bulls Moneyline Odds
|Raptors Moneyline Odds
|225.5 points (over -110, under -110)
|Bulls -2.5 (-110)
|January 18, 7:30 p.m. ET
Stream: NBA League Pass
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About the Bulls (19-23 SU, 20-21-1 ATS, 21-20-1 o/u)
Currently ninth in the Eastern Conference, the Bulls could be in the competition for the title of “most completely average team in the NBA.” While they’re actually in the top half of the league in points allowed per game,(112.4), they’re pretty average in most statistical categories.
Offensively, however, they are very challenged. The Bulls are 27th in the NBA in scoring, averaging 110.1 points per game. But DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine have quietly been very good this season. DeRozan is averaging 22 points and five assists per game while LaVine is averaging 20 points, four assists, and five rebounds per game. Both players are rumoured to be on the trade block, though, and it’s possible the Bulls roster could be completely torn down if the team doesn’t start piling up some wins soon.
Once you get past the top four options, offence is hard to come by. Alex Caruso and Patrick Wiliams are tied for fifth on the team in scoring with 9.8 points per game. If the Bulls are going to make a run to climb the playoff ladder, they are going to need more out of their bench offensively.
The defence seems solid on paper, in the top half of the league in points allowed per game. That said, they are just 15th in defensive rating (73). They give up a lot of rebounds on both ends of the floor, which can and will catch up to them in a big way.
About the Raptors (16-25 SU, 21-20 ATS, 23-18 o/u)
The Raptors, meanwhile, are watching the 2023-24 season slip away from them. That may be a good thing as they have seemingly finally embraced the rebuild by trading away both O.G. Anunoby and more recently Siakam.
They are currently 12th in the Eastern Conference at 16-25, eight games behind the Heat for the No. 6 seed and 1 1/2 games behind the Hawks for the final play-in tournament No. 10 seed.
We mentioned that the Bulls are quite average but try this one on for size: the Raptors are 16th in both points scored per game (115.1) and 18th in points allowed per game (116.3). They’re even 10th in the league in field goal percentage (48.2%). So, what gives?
For starters, the Eastern Conference is stacked. The top three teams – the Celtics, Bucks, and 76ers – are all legitimate contenders for the NBA title. The Cavaliers, Heat, Pacers, and Knicks have enough talent to win a round or two. And then you have the young Magic, who have had positive stretches this year.
For a team like the Raptors, who don’t stand out on either end of the floor, the season is going to be filled with close losses and that has largely been the case. You could point to their lack of success from three (36%, 18th in the NBA). You could point to a middling ability to grab rebounds off their own glass (32.87 DRPG, 17th).
The real difference is that the Raptors don’t have true difference-makers on either end of the floor. Scottie Barnes is good but not great. Siakam, arguably the best player on the team, was just dealt to the Indiana Pacers in a three-team deal. There is no one on this team who is going to step up in the final seconds of a close game to swing things in the Raptors’ favour.
With the trades of Siakam and Anunoby, it is clear where the Raptors are going. Missing the playoffs is fine this year as the team now looks towards the draft.
Scottie Barnes over 24.5 points + assists
Otto Porter Jr. (knee) and Jakob Poeltl (ankle) are out for the Raptors. Bruce Brown, who was just acquired as part of the Siakam deal, is also out with a knee injury.
The Bulls have a long list of injuries bettors should monitor leading up to the tip. Patrick Williams (ankle), Julian Phillips (leg), and Ayo Dosunmu (shoulder) are all questionable. Lonzo Ball (knee) and Torrey Craig (heel) are still out.
- The Raptors failed to hit the over in a 105-96 loss to the Celtics on Jan. 15. It was their first under in six games and just their second in 10. The Raptors have been solid at hitting the over this year, doing so in 23 of 41 games so far this season.
- The Bulls have been completely average in terms of the spread and over/under this season. They are 20-21-1 ATS and 21-20-1 with the over/under. That said, they have failed to cover in their last three games, all of which have been losses. They had a stretch of three straight covers but have failed to do so in five of eight.
- The Raptors have only covered once in their past three games but have been quite good against the spread of late. Before the last three games, the Raptors covered in five of six and seven of nine overall, bringing them to 21-20 against the spread.
Player prop trends
- RJ Barrett has been on a heater since joining the Raptors from the Knicks, averaging 20.6 points on 57% shooting in nine games. He’s -120 to score over 20.5 points, a mark he’s eclipsed in five of his last six games.
- Caruso has been a threat from deep recently, averaging two three-pointers per game over his last 10. He’s -115 to record over 1.5 threes and has eclipsed that mark in four straight games and seven of his last 10. The Bulls shooting guard has also recorded at least one block in eight straight games (-200 over 0.5 blocks).
Wagers to consider
- Barnes over 24.5 points and assists: -115. With Siakam out the door, the offence will run through Barnes. He has had strong performances for the Raptors so far throughout the season, and his stats should only improve, even if the team on the floor does not.
- Raptors +2.5: -110. The Bulls have been struggling to cover not only of late but the entirety of the year. The Raptors could catch them by surprise and at least cover, if not win outright. They also played really well in their first game without Siakam.
- Barrett over 20.5 points (-120): He’s clearly taken on a bigger role in the Raptors’ offence and his stats show it. He has four 20-point games since joining the Raptors and that number should only grow going forward.