The Atlanta Hawks head to Chicago to take on a Bulls team that defeated them on Monday night in Atlanta. Can the Hawks get revenge and give the Bulls a home loss? Which team is the right NBA pick?
Atlanta Hawks vs. Chicago Bulls
Wednesday, December 29, 2021- 8:00 PM EST at United Center
The Atlanta Hawks have been absolutely rocked by covid. NBA fans were looking forward to a Christmas Day rematch of last year's playoff matchup against the New York Knicks, but covid rendered the Hawks lineup impotent. The Hawks got a little relief against the Bulls with the return of Trae Young, but it was not enough to keep the game close. The Chicago Bulls won the game handily 130–118 and covered the NBA odds.
Although Young has returned, he is missing plenty of his teammates. Bogdan Bogdanović, John Collins, Sharife Cooper, Gorgui Dieng, Danilo Gallinari, Kevin Huerter, Onyeka Okongwu, Lou Williams, and Delon Wright are all out with covid. The Hawks team is decimated and has G league players playing alongside Trae Young, Cam Reddish, and Clint Capela.
Cam Reddish has excelled in the absence of his teammates and scored 33 points in the loss to the Bulls on Monday. While Reddish had been pegged as a "3-and-D" player, his performance against Chicago and New York showed that he can create with the ball and be a primary playmaker on offense. Reddish will have another big role for the Hawks tonight. Reddish has also shown that he deserves to have a bigger role in the offense even when his teammates return.
The Chicago Bulls have won four in a row and are moving to the top of the Eastern Conference standings at 21-10. The Bulls are 11-4 at home this year. The Bulls are struggling with covid issues, but not nearly as severely as Atlanta. The Bulls are missing two of their top defenders in Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso, however. This was quite apparent when they gave up 118 points to the Hawks on Monday night.
While the Bulls definitely need their premier defenders to make a playoff push, they have plenty of offense to win these regular-season games. DeMar DeRozan showed why he is aptly nicknamed "the Lone Mid-Ranger" when he buried mid-range jumpers at will to keep Atlanta at bay when the Hawks were pushing to get back into the game in the fourth quarter. The fact that
DeRozan can create a quality mid-range look against almost any defender shows how valuable he is to this team. DeRozan's scoring prowess is making the Bulls a true Eastern Conference contender. DeRozan isn't the only offensive wizard on the Bulls, however. Zach LaVine is averaging 26 points per game and can create off the dribble.
Zach LaVine’s ultra-quick moves towards the rim are a great setup for the Bulls’ offense in the half-court. Nikola Vucevic is the third-highest scorer for the Bulls and is averaging 16 points and 11 rebounds per game.
Vucevic can score in the post, but can also hit shots from outside, bringing opposing centers out of the paint because his jump shot must be respected. The combination of DeRozan, LaVine, and Vucevic is a potent offensive trio that is a nightmare for opposing teams’ defenses.
Clint Capela vs. Nikola Vucevic
Vucevic scored 30 points against Clint Capela on Monday. Capela had to be feeling bad about his performance. Capela is a player who prides himself on his top-level defense. Vucevic's ability to score when needed was a major help to make it an easy win for Chicago.
Capela will be eager to get a second chance to stop Vucevic and put his team in a better position to win. If Vucevic has the same big scoring performance, the Bulls will win by double-digits again. If Capela can shut Vucevic down and not give the Bulls so many easy points in the paint on key possessions, the Hawks will have a great chance to cover and maybe even pull the upset.
Usually, I like to take the split when teams face each other back to back. The losing team has frustration and knows what to improve on, while the winners could become overconfident. The Hawks crowd meant a lot for the late push they made.
Without the home support, I don't know if they will be able to muster the same momentum with a depleted roster. The Bulls have too much firepower for this current iteration of the Hawks. Lay the points. For your best bets, take the Bulls.
*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.