Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:45 AM

Celtics vs. Bulls Predictions, Odds, Preview

May 7, 2021
by Jonathan Willis
NBA Expert

The Chicago Bulls’ playoff hopes are fading fast. They picked up a needed win over the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday night, but they are still three games behind the Washington Wizards for the last spot in the play-in round.

The Bulls are running out of chances to make up ground with just six games left in their schedule, so they probably need to win out in order to surpass the Wizards. That makes Friday night’s game against the Boston Celtics a must win for Chicago.

Celtics vs. Bulls Betting Resources

Betting Odds - Celtics vs. Bulls

Line Movements

Subject to Change

  • Spread: Celtics -3
  • Money-Line: Boston -150, Chicago +125
  • Total: 223.5

The Celtics seek their fourth win in the last five games as Boston heads to Chicago on Friday to battle the Bulls. (AP)

Celtics vs. Bulls Current Form-Last Game

The last six weeks haven’t been good to the Bulls. Chicago was 19-22 on March 21, but the Bulls have fallen apart down the stretch. They are 8-17 in their 25 games since that point.

Their decision to add Nikola Vucevic and Al-Farouq Aminu at the deadline for Wendell Carter, Otto Porter, and two first-round picks backfired spectacularly, leading to growing frustration in the Windy City.

Chicago lost four straight games prior to Thursday night’s win over Charlotte. The Bulls weren’t expected to knock off any of those teams since the Knicks, Bucks, Hawks, and Sixers are all in the top five, but not being able to pick up at least one win may have doomed them.

Vucevic was the best player on the court in Chicago’s 120-99 win over Charlotte. He went 12-of-24 for 29 points with 14 rebounds, leading the Bulls in both categories.

The Celtics are currently tied with the Heat for the No. 6 spot in the Eastern Conference standings at 35-31. They ran off six straight wins at one point last month to rise above Atlanta and Miami for a short time, but the Celtics have lost five of their nine games since that streak.

The Celtics pummeled the Magic, 132-96 in Orlando in their last game on Wednesday. Kemba Walker rose to the occasion with a few other players injured, compiling 32 points to lead all scorers. Evan Fournier had a nice game in the win too with 18 points and a plus/minus of +26.

Celtics vs. Bulls Head-to-Head

  • Apr. 19, 2021 - Bulls 102 at Celtics 96, Chicago +4.5, Under 212
  • Jan. 25, 2021 - Celtics 119 at Bulls 103, Boston -4, Under 227.5

This will be the third meeting between Boston and Chicago this season. The Celtics went on the road to win 119-103 in late January behind a combined 50 points from Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.

The Bulls avenged that defeat three weeks ago with a 102-96 victory over the Celtics in Boston has Vucevic had 29 points and nine boards.

(SU-Straight Up, ATS - Against the Spread, OU - Over-Under)

Boston Celtics Betting Outlook

Inside the Stats (2020-2021)

  • Overall: 35-31 SU, 31-34-1 ATS, 35-31 OU
  • Road: 14-18 SU, 14-18 ATS, 19-13 OU

Boston has been carried for long stretches by Brown and Tatum this season. Brown is averaging 24.7 PPG and 6.0 RPG while making 48.4% of his shots and 39.7% of his threes, but he isn’t going to be in the lineup for the Celtics on Friday due to an ankle injury.

Tatum will be counted on more with Brown sitting out. He is continuing to be an efficient shooter despite taking more shots this season, and he is also helping out in other areas.

Tatum is averaging 26.5 PPG, 7.4 RPG, and 4.4 APG. He had two 50-point games last month, so he is capable of exploding on Friday night.

Although he has been banged up this season, Walker can still be dangerous on the court. He exploded for 32 points in a win over Phoenix a couple weeks ago, and he was sharp against Orlando on Wednesday. His efficiency numbers aren’t great, but he can take over for stretches.

The Celtics have been decent, but not great on defense. They haven’t been great about staying out of foul trouble, ranking in the bottom five of the NBA in that regard.

Boston's weakness is perimeter defense, but the Bulls might not be able to exploit it given the issues at guard.

Chicago Bulls Betting Outlook

Inside the Stats (2020-2021)

  • Overall: 27-39 SU, 34-32 ATS, 29-37 OU
  • Home: 17-15 SU, 13-19 ATS, 13-19 OU

The return of Zach LaVine for the last week of the regular season is huge for the Bulls.

LaVine missed three weeks due to injury before returning for Thursday night’s win over Charlotte. He wasn’t too effective with 13 points, but his presence gave the Bulls another player that can create with the ball. LaVine is averaging 27.5 PPG, 5.1 RPG, and 5.1 APG this season.

Vucevic has been a nice producer with 22.3 PPG and 10.9 RPG since joining Chicago. Vucevic is making 49.5% of his field goals and 42.3% of his threes, but his defense has taken a hit over the last month or so. He was considered a solid interior defender in Orlando, yet he now has a defensive rating over 110 according to StatMuse.

Chicago doesn’t have another reliable scoring option. Former first-round pick Coby White has not worked out, averaging 14.9 PPG while shooting 41.3% from the floor and 34.9% from beyond the arc.

Lauri Markkanen and Thaddeus Young have both had their moments, and both players are averaging double digits.

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