Bulls vs. Bucks NBA Odds, Preview and Prediction

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DeMar DeRozan #11 of the Chicago Bulls. Stacy Revere/Getty Images/AFP

The Milwaukee Bucks (28-19) host the Chicago Bulls (28-15) on ESPN this Friday night in a battle of two of the top four seeds in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls are just hanging onto that spot after losing four of their last five games, but they beat the Cavaliers on Wednesday.

Milwaukee took care of Memphis in a 126-114 win on Wednesday. This is the first of four meetings between these teams this season. So let’s take a look at the NBA odds for tonight.

Chicago Bulls vs. Milwaukee Bucks

Friday, January 21, 2022 – 08:00 PM EST at Fiserv Forum

The Bucks (21-26 ATS) are a 9-point favorite over the Bulls (25-18 ATS) at BMR’s top-rated sportsbooks. The Bulls are reeling after losing two starters (Zach LaVine and Lonzo Ball) to knee injuries for the time being. Does Chicago have enough left to keep it close?

Bulls: One Rough Week

Some losses hurt more than others. When the Bulls were pounded by 42 points against Golden State a week ago, they lost star Zach LaVine after three minutes of action. He will be reassessed next week.

The Bulls lost their first three games since LaVine left injured before rallying to win against Cleveland. Lonzo Ball is also out and expected to undergo knee surgery that will keep him out for six-to-eight weeks. He has missed the last three games.

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These two injuries dramatically change Chicago’s ability to stretch the court and shoot the three. Ball and LaVine both averages over 7.0 three-point attempts per game and are the team’s best deep shooters.

Against the Warriors, Chicago finished 10-of-38 (.263) from three, one of the team’s worst efforts this year. This puts more pressure on Coby White, who has moved to the starting lineup. In the last three games, he is 10-of-19 from three, a strong percentage, but he is still not a big-time scorer.

However, you may be surprised to learn that the Bulls have shot over 41% from three in each of the last three games without Ball and LaVine. That is very good, but unfortunately, the Bulls still lost road games in Memphis and Boston as the overall defensive efforts were poor.

Chicago is still missing Javonte Green too, who averages 22.2 minutes per game. The depth of the Bulls is greatly being tested, but at least guard Alex Caruso returned to action on Wednesday, playing 22 minutes in his first game since December 20th.

Believe it or not, the Bulls have been at their best this season when Caruso shares the court with Ball, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic. That four-man lineup has a Net Rating of plus-18.9, better than when the Bulls sub out Vucevic for LaVine (plus-13.1).

At least the Bulls still have DeRozan and Vucevic. DeRozan had 16 of his 30 points in the second quarter to help down the Cavaliers on Wednesday. Vucevic added 24 points and 12 rebounds, bouncing back from an awful game against Boston where he shot 2-of-13 from the field. This season, the Bulls are 18-4 when Vucevic scores at least 15 points and 19-2 when DeRozan scores more than 25 points. The team is on their shoulders now.

Bucks: Chugging Along

The Warriors and Suns earned a lot of the early headlines this season, but the defending champions are chugging along just fine with the fourth-best record in the conference and No. 6 in Net Rating, one of a handful of teams to rank in the top 10 in Offensive Rating and Defensive Rating.

The Bucks are only 3-6 in their last nine games, but every loss was by single digits, and Giannis Antetokounmpo missed the Detroit loss. However, most teams would love to have the wins over the Nets, Warriors, and Grizzlies.

Giannis continues to be great. His average of 6.1 assists per game would be the highest season of his career. Just over the last seven games, he is averaging 31.4 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 6.9 assists per game. He is even shooting a respectable 35.7% from three and 80.9% from the free-throw line. The Bucks are 18-4 when Giannis scores at least 30 points and only 10-10 when he is under 30 points.

Giannis could use a little more help this season. Jrue Holiday returned Wednesday after a two-week absence and only played 22 minutes against Memphis. He was 2-of-8 from the field and scored nine points in the win.

We’ll see if the Bucks increase his workload in this one. Holiday had been averaging 21.4 points, 7.5 assists, and shooting 54.8% from the field since Thanksgiving (19 games). Milwaukee is an incredible plus-15.2 in Net Rating with Holiday on the court according to Basketball-Reference.

Prediction

Chicago has only lost eight games by double digits this season, and all but one of those were games where the defense allowed a team to shoot over 48%. The Bucks have only broken 48% once in their last nine games during this 3-6 stretch. While I do still like the Bucks with Holiday healthy to win at home against the shorthanded Bulls, I like Chicago with the points for your NBA picks this Friday.

NBA Pick: Bulls +9 (-110) with Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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Bulls +9 (-110)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.