Bulls vs. Raptors Expert Pick - April 12th, 2023
BULLS VS. RAPTORS EXPERT PICK - APRIL 12th, 2023 - Greetings basketball fans. Welcome back to our weekly column where we normally break down some of the marquee matchups of the weekend’s slate of NBA games. This time, however, we are looking at the teams involved in the play-in tournament to determine the last two playoff berths in each conference.
Today’s edition features the Chicago Bulls (40-42) taking on the Toronto Raptors (41-41). So, without further delay, let’s dive into this matchup to see which team will advance and why.
Chicago Bulls vs. Toronto Raptors Season Trends
The Chicago Bulls 2022-23 season can be summed up in one word – inconsistency. Sure, Lonzo Ball missed the entire season thanks to a lingering knee issue. However, the goal for this team was to advance to the second round of the playoffs, rather than finishing two games below .500 and trying to claw their way into the postseason via a pair of wins in the play-in tournament, but here we are.
The Bulls finished the season with three wins in the previous five contests. This includes an easy 103-81 win over the Detroit Pistons in the season finale.
Chicago led by a slim 67-64 margin heading into the final frame. But thanks to an 11-2 run midway through the period, the home team cruised to a 22-point victory. Zach LaVine scored a team-high 17 points in 26 minutes and DeMar DeRozan chipped in with 16 points while playing just 24 minutes. Chicago limited Detroit to just 42.1 percent shooting from the field and 20 percent (6-for-30) from beyond the arc.
Although the Bulls finished in the lower half of the conference playoff race, they had the seventh-best scoring defense (112.2 points per game) and the fifth-best defensive rating (112.5 points per 100 possessions). The Bulls will need another solid defensive effort to keep their season alive.
Meanwhile, despite losing a pair of games to the Boston Celtics, the Raptors also concluded their season with three wins in their final five games. This includes a 121-105 win over the Milwaukee Bucks – who had previously clinched the No. 1 seed in the conference.
Gary Trent Jr. paced the Raptors with 23 points and three assists. Malachi Flynn tallied a season-high 20 points for a Raptors’ offense that shot 50.5 percent from the field and had seven players in double figures.
Chicago Bulls vs. Toronto Raptors Head-To-Head & Betting Trends
The Bulls and Raptors have played head-to-head three times this season.
The first meeting took place back in early November. Toronto pulled away in the fourth quarter en route to a 113-104 win. Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet scored a team-high of 30 points to go along with 11 assists. OG Anunoby chipped in with 22 points and six boards.
Just 24 hours later, these two teams were at it again. This time, though, Chicago bounced back with a 111-97 victory, thanks in large part to the third quarter in which it outscored Toronto by a 28-17 margin. Zach Lavine led the Bulls’ charge with 30 points, five assists, three rebounds, and two steals. Nikola Vucevic – one of only two Bulls players to suit up all 82 games this season – contributed with 15 points, 13 rebounds, and four assists.
In the rubber match that took place in late February, the teams battled to a near stalemate through the first 36 minutes of action, as the Bulls led 72-70 going into the final frame. But just like the first meeting, the Raptors pulled away in the fourth quarter en route to a 104-98 victory. Pascal Siakam led the Raptors with 20 points and eight boards, while OG Anunoby tallied 17 points and eight rebounds.
The one common denominator in all three games is that each team took control of the game in either the third or fourth quarter. It will be interesting to see what trend unfolds if the game is tight in a win-or-go-home scenario.
The projected O/U for this contest opened at 217.5. That line has moved to 215. Here are a few reasons to go with the UNDER in this matchup.
The projected total has gone UNDER in Chicago’s last seven games when they have played against a team in the eastern conference. Additionally, the UNDER is a perfect 6-0 for the Bulls in their last six games against teams from the Atlantic Division.
The total has gone UNDER for Toronto in five of its last six games against the Bulls, and five times in the last seven instances in which Toronto played against a Central Division opponent.
It is also worth noting that the teams have combined for 215 points just once in their three regular-season meetings. Given these trends, along with the fact that both teams finished in the top 10 in scoring defense, I’m predicting that points will come at a premium, which is why you should go with the UNDER here.
The Raptors are favored to win this game by 4.5 points.
The Bulls have a 4-2 mark against the spread in their last six games overall. Chicago also boasts an impressive 7-3 record ATS in their last 10 matchups against Toronto.
Toronto is just 1-4 ATS in the last five games they played on a Wednesday.
Prediction: Both Bulls’ losses against the Raptors were on the road, and I expect that trend to continue here. Especially since the No. 10 seed is 0-4 since this format begin back in 2020. Taking those factors into consideration, I am picking Toronto to win the game outright, but the Bulls will cover the (+4.5) spread.
Player Prop Bet
My key player to watch from this contest is Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan. He currently has -115 odds of scoring more than or less than 22.5 points.
During his career, DeRozan has played against the Raptors 13 times. He is averaging 21.5 points, 6.2 assists, and 5.8 rebounds. This is encouraging because his scoring average against Toronto is just one point less than the projected scoring total for this matchup.
Also, DeRozan has eclipsed the 22.5 total in each of his last four games against Toronto. And he is averaging 24.7 points this season.
Based on these stats, I am predicting the OVER for DeRozan’s point total.
Under 215 total points
Chicago Bulls (+4.5)
PPB: DeMar DeRozan OVER 22.5 points