The Chicago Bulls made a big ol’ splash on NBA trade deadline day last week, but they have yet to see the fruits of their labor, as the team has yet to secure a win since acquiring big man Nikola Vucevic in a blockbuster trade with the Orlando Magic. Now they have to head over for a visit to the Utah Jazz on Friday night, who just so happen to be on a roll again all of a sudden.
Free Picks: Utah Jazz vs. Chicago Bulls
Jazz Look To Extend Chicago’s Long Losing Streak In Utah (Season Betting Record: 74-83)
It might seem like bad luck for the Bulls, and that wouldn’t be a completely irrational view of this inter-conference matchup. The Jazz seem to be in their best form since their 22 wins in 24 games stretch earlier this year, having won their last seven straight games while covering the spread in four of their last six.
The Jazz getting back to their early-season form isn’t the back luck part for the Bulls though, that would be the absence of their best player, Zach LaVine. The two-time Slam Dunk champion had been Chicago’s iron man up until their last game, which he had to miss with a foot injury. That ailment will keep him out again on Friday night, and joining him in the trainer’s room will be guards Coby White and Garrett Temple.
If you weren’t counting, that’s Chicago’s top three backcourt players that are unavailable for this matchup with the Jazz, who aren’t trotting out an impressive duo or anything, just a pair of All-Stars in Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley. Oh, and did I mention presumptive 2021 Sixth Man of the Year, deadshot Jordan Clarkson supplementing those Utah boys off the bench?
We so badly want to get excited about this new-look Bulls team, but they’ve lost five straight and we just can’t abide that lack of skill and substance at the one and two, especially with who’s playing across from them. You might be saying, ‘But what about Chicago’s new twin towers of Eastern Europe? Lauri Markkanen and Nikola Vucevic?’ And that would be a valid point, so let’s answer it.
Rudy Gobert gets a lot of flak and seemingly doesn’t garner the respect from his fellow players that you might expect from a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and the second-best shot-swatter in the association (2.9). However, he is a damn good defensive player that should be in the discussion for DPOY every year no matter how hard it is to watch him work in the post or do literally anything on the offensive end.
The Stifle Tower has dominated Vucevic throughout their careers, with Gobert and the Jazz taking eight of nine meetings with the Montenegrin. Vooch was also held to just 17.1 points in those games, which is well below his average over the past several years. Markkanen is even more frail than Vooch, so don’t expect Rudy to have much trouble dealing with him either.
Double-digit spreads are something that we absolutely abhor, but considering Chicago’s roster issues and Utah’s recent success, it seems like we might have to break our rule. The fact that Utah is 8-4 against the spread when they are double-digit favorites this season—including a recent 4-1 ATS run in that situation—makes us feel a lot more comfortable taking Utah at a -11.5 NBA point spread with -116 NBA odds as one of our best bets for today.
We would love to go with a player prop on Spida or Conley here as well, but we’re just not confident that the Bulls can keep it close enough to allow the Jazz starters to hit their marks. To be sure, this would have been an extremely different read if LaVine was playing, that’s how good he has been this season.
- Utah is 8-4 ATS as a favorite of 10+ points this season
- Utah is 4-2 ATS in their last six games as the favorite
- Chicago is 1-3 ATS in their last four games as the underdog
- Chicago has lost their only game without Zach LaVine this season
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The Los Angeles Clippers will renew hostilities with the Dallas Mavericks, who they dispatched in the first round of last season’s playoffs.
The Denver Nuggets and the league’s presumptive NBA MVP will look to get off to a strong start against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1.
The Golden State Warriors will host the Memphis Grizzlies in the final play-in game, which will determine the Western Conference’s eighth seed.
The Washington Wizards will host the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night with the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference on the line.
Alex is an alumnus of Ryerson University's RTA Sport Media program, a contributing NHL, NBA, and MLB writer in the BetPicks.ca team. He has been writing on sports, betting, and fantasy contests for several years, including pitstops as an NFL Editor for theScore and as one of the lead NBA news writers for fantasy sports site FantasyPros. As a lifelong athlete, bettor, and sports fan, Alex is uniquely qualified to help you reach the sports betting success that you've always dreamed of and your wife never believed you could achieve.