Rockets vs. Bulls NBA Preview and Best Bet for December 20

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DeMar DeRozan #11 of the Chicago Bulls. Mike Stobe/Getty Images/AFP

The Chicago Bulls are in a bit of a bad spot Monday against the Houston Rockets as the Bulls are short-handed and playing the second of a back-to-back. Which way to lean at BMR’s top-rated sportsbooks?  Keep reading to check the NBA odds and get some expert betting advice.

Houston Rockets vs. Chicago Bulls 

Monday, December 20, 2021 – 08:00 PM EST at United Center 

It’s the fourth-largest city in the United States visiting the third-largest on Monday as the Houston Rockets visit the Chicago Bulls. There’s not much in common between the teams, though, as the Bulls are Eastern Conference contenders (when healthy), while the Rockets are in a major rebuild

Monday will wrap up the season series. On November 24 in Houston, the Rockets staged a big upset as they were 9.5-point underdogs at BMR’s top-rated books and beat Chicago 118-113 to snap what was a 15-game losing streak at the time. Houston blew it open by outscoring the Bulls 35-18 in the third. Christian Wood had 16 points and 10 rebounds, Kevin Porter Jr. had 14 points, six rebounds, and nine assists, and rookie No. 2 overall pick Jalen Green scored 11 points in the first quarter before exiting with a left leg injury. More on him below.  

Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 28 points. They shot pretty well (45.8 percent) and forced 22 turnovers but were outscored by seven points at the free-throw line and that was largely the difference. Even with that win, Chicago is 2-8 straight up and 4-6 ATS on the NBA picks in the past 10 meetings.  

Rockets Led By Wood 

Houston comes in off a 116-107 win in Detroit on Saturday – the Pistons are one of the few teams worse than the Rockets. Former Piston Christian Wood had 21 points and eight rebounds. He was one of seven players to score in double digits. Houston has won nine of the past 11 games Wood has played. Wood and Giannis Antetokounmpo are the only players in the NBA averaging at least 16.0 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks this season. 

The Rockets actually are a rare team not in terrible shape currently due to COVID but they are missing a few guys due to injury. Their starting backcourt of Kevin Porter and rookie No. 2 overall pick Jalen Green are out. Both are close to returning but it won’t be Monday. John Wall has yet to play this season.  

Fellow guard Armoni Brooks is questionable with a sore ankle. He also missed Saturday’s game and rookie Josh Christopher made his first NBA start and should do so again. Christopher had 10 points and seven assists vs. Detroit. The only Rocket to have played and started every game this season is Jae'Sean Tate.  

Houston has won three of its past five road games after losing its first 11. The Rockets are 8-2 ATS on the NBA picks in their past 10 as underdogs.  

Bulls Still Short-Handed 

Chicago has been hammered by COVID and will be without a handful of guys tonight, led by All-Star Zach LaVine, who is among the NBA scoring leaders at 26.0 ppg.  The team came out of a COVID-induced stoppage on Sunday with a 115-110 win over the Lakers. DeMar DeRozan had been in protocols, too, but he was back and had 38 points. Nineteen of those points came in the fourth quarter and he was 16-for-17 from the free-throw line.  

"I felt free as a bird being out there with the guys, in front of the fans, getting out of the basement I was in for 10 days," DeRozan, an L.A. native, said. "It means a lot when you can beat the great teams in this league consecutive times. We did it a few times this year and it speaks volumes; it gives us confidence, gives us the belief we can beat anybody whether it's at home or on the road. It says a lot and we take on that challenge every time we play these big teams and it shows." 

Nikola Vucevic had 19 points and 13 rebounds, and Lonzo Ball added 19 points as the Bulls snapped a two-game losing streak. Ball is the only player in the league this season to record at least 140 rebounds, 130 assists, 47 steals, and 25 blocks. 

The Bulls had 16 offensive rebounds to nine for the Lakers. Derrick Jones Jr. injured his hamstring in the win and is iffy for Monday. Sunday was Jones' first game back after a 10-day stint in the league's health and safety protocols. 

This feels like a bit of a letdown game for the Bulls after beating LeBron & Co. They probably still win but too many points to give.  

NBA Pick: Rockets +6.5 (-112) with BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Rockets +6.5 (-112)
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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.