Boston at Chicago Spread, Expert Pick & TV Info

Posted by Michael Hunt on Wednesday,February 15, 2017 10:15, EST in

The NBA’s first half of the season – well that’s not technically right in terms of games already played – comes to an end Thursday night with a national TV game as the Boston Celtics will be playing the second of a back-to-back as they visit injury-ravaged Chicago. The Bulls should be home underdogs in NBA betting.

Boston at Chicago Spread, Expert Pick & TV Info

When: Thursday, Feb. 16, 8 PM ET
Where: United Center, Chicago
TV: TNT
Stream: NBA.tv
Radio: Boston / Chicago
NBA Odds: Celtics favored by TBA

Why Bet on Boston?

The Celtics will be coming off a Wednesday home game vs. Philadelphia, which should be an easy win. Boston now has a realistic chance of catching Cleveland for the best record in the East with the news that the Cavaliers have lost All-Star forward Kevin Love for the next six weeks or so.

Boston will be without two players at a minimum for this game. Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Avery Bradley (Achilles) is feeling about as good as he’s felt since before the injury. But there’s been no update to Bradley’s timetable as he has missed a few weeks. Marcus Smart will continue to benefit the most in his absence. Rookie forward Jaylen Brown (right hip strain) has been ruled out through the All-Star break. He hasn’t been playing too much.

The Celtics have played excellent basketball since mid-December, when All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas returned from a brief absence due to a groin strain. As Thomas has muscled his way into the MVP conversation based largely on his absurd fourth-quarter production, the Celtics have won a league-best 23 games since his return on Dec. 16 (a feat matched by the Golden State Warriors and the surging Washington Wizards).

Entering that date, Boston stood at 13-12 overall and was tied for fifth in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics sat 5.5 games back of the East-leading Cleveland Cavaliers and five games behind the second-place Toronto Raptors. In Boston’s 30-game span since mid-December, the Celtics own the third-best offensive rating in the league while averaging 112.3 points per 100 possessions.

Thomas is scoring at a rate that has been seldom seen in Celtics franchise history. His 29.8 points per game is among the top single season scoring marks in franchise history. Thomas entered Wednesday having scored at least 20 points in 39 straight games which is the longest such streak of his NBA career. Only two other players in Celtics franchise history have recorded such streaks (John Havlicek – team record 40 games) and Kevin McHale (30 games from April to December in 1986).

In the past three NBA seasons only Thomas, Kevin Durant (72 game streak from November 2015 to November 2016) and James Harden (25 game streak from March to November 2016) are the only players to have streaks of 20 games or longer.

Brad Stevens has been named as the head coach for the Eastern Conference All-Star team for the 2017 NBA All-Star game in New Orleans. He is the seventh coach in team history to receive the honor and is the first coach since Doc Rivers to coach the All-Star team in Los Angeles in 2011.

Why Bet on Chicago?

The Bulls hosted Toronto on Tuesday without Nikola Mirotic (back), who is considered doubtful for Thursday’s game vs. Boston. Mirotic is deal with painful back spasms and it appears the Bulls will hold him out through the All-Stat break to give him an extra week of rest. Paul Zipser (ankle) missed Tuesday and won’t play vs. Boston. Dwyane Wade (right wrist contusion) also was out Tuesday and not expected here.

One of Bulls star Jimmy Butler’s strengths this season has been at the charity stripe: He’s third in the league in free throws made per game with 8.2, and fourth in free throw attempts per game with 9.4. Butler’s 15-game streak of scoring at least 20 points from Nov. 7 to Dec. 6 is the longest of his career.

The Bulls have been especially effective on the offensive glass this season, ranking first in the NBA with 12.9 offensive boards per game. Chicago has been able to take advantage of those rebounds and is second in the league in second-chance points with 15.6 per game.

The Bulls and Celtics split two early-season meetings. On Nov. 2 in Boston, the Celtics won 107-100. Boston’s Amir Johnson finished with 23 points to go along with six rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks with 16 of his points coming in the third quarter. Thomas added a double-double with 23 points and 10 assists. The Bulls were led by Butler’s 23 points and nine rebounds.

On Oct. 27 in Chicago in the season opener, the Bulls defeated the Celtics 105-99. Butler paced Chicago with 24 points. The Bulls owned a 55-36 rebounding edge, including 18-3 on the offensive glass. Wade added 22 points, six rebounds and five assists. The Celtics were led by Thomas and his 25 points while Bradley added 16 points, six rebounds and five assists while Jae Crowder added 14 points and six boards.

Boston at Chicago Expert Pick: Boston Celtics

Take Boston in NBA odds as long as the Celtics don’t rest Thomas.