Oddsmakers spotting Bulls big number at Celtics in Monday NBA betting action

Chicago Bulls' Lauri Markkanen
Chicago Bulls' Lauri Markkanen (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
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The Chicago Bulls are 10-point road underdogs against the Boston Celtics on the Monday NBA betting card, while the Indiana Pacers are short home favorites against the Joel Embiid-less Philadelphia 76ers. Here’s a betting breakdown of those two contests, plus point spreads and totals for the rest of the games on the evening’s pro basketball slate.

Bulls at Celtics (-10, 215.5)

The Bulls’ against-the-spread hot streak in mid-December feels like ages ago. Chicago is now below .500 (19-20-1) ATS on the season and has failed to cover six of its last seven lines, though it beat the Pistons straight up and ATS (108-99 as a 3.5-point underdog) in Detroit on Saturday night.

Center Wendell Carter remains out for the Bulls, as he has joined Otto Porter in street clothes. That’s a significant blow for Chicago even if rookie backup Daniel Gafford has exceeded expectations as a second-round pick. Carter leads the Bulls in win shares this season, and his two-way competency is missed on a team otherwise lacking two-way players. Chicago promptly allowed 123 and 116 points to the Pelicans and Pacers, respectively, in the first two games he missed after suffering a severe ankle sprain that is expected to keep him sidelined for multiple weeks.

The Bulls have been profitable on the road for bettors this season (10-8-1 ATS), including a recent 7-2-1 10-game stretch away from the United Center. But most of that work was done in mid-December with Carter in the lineup.

Carter’s absence means more playing time for Luke Kornet, who scored a season-high 15 points against the Pistons on Saturday. But Kornet was exiled from the rotation earlier in the year due to his pick-and-roll defense – the Celtics have one of the best perimeter groups in the NBA, featuring Kemba Walker, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. This is a tough matchup for an inexperienced center tandem.

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Boston is near the top of the NBA’s ATS standings at 21-14-2, but the Celtics have been struggling at betting window themselves, going 3-6 ATS in their last nine games. One of those point-spread wins came at the Bulls on Jan. 4 – the Celtics closed as 1-point underdogs and won the game 111-104. Boston has dominated Chicago at TD Garden, owning an 8-2 ATS record in the last 10 meetings.

Center Daniel Theis is questionable for the Celtics, but they are otherwise healthy. And while Boston hasn’t been profitable for bettors in January, it just beat the Pelicans 140-105 in its last outing in a similar spot to Monday (the Celtics closed as 11.5-point favorites). Just 27% of the tickets are on the Bulls as of Monday morning, per SportsInsights.

76ers at Pacers (-4, 215)

Both teams are dealing with injuries to key players ahead of this matchup. Malcolm Brogdon (illness) and Domantas Sabonis (knee), the Pacers’ two best players this season, are in the starting lineup after being initially listed as questionable. Joel Embiid is out for the 76ers.

Brogdon (17.7 ppg) hasn’t played since suffering back spasms in the Pacers’ 115-97 win over Philly on Dec. 31. He was expected back in the lineup Friday until strep throat derailed those plans.

Without Sabonis and Brogdon, the Pacers (+1) notched a 116-105 win against the Bulls in their last outing. Even without Embiid, however, the 76ers present a tougher test.

Philadelphia looked like it was starting to figure things out without Embiid, beating the Thunder and Celtics by an average of nine points in back-to-back games. But then it threw up a clunker in its last outing against the Mavericks, losing 109-91 when it closed as a 2.5-point dog. The 76ers are 4-5 SU and 3-5-1 ATS on the year with Embiid sidelined.

A few nuggets to consider: While the Pacers are only short home favorites, the 76ers are 0-5 SU in their last five road games. The Sixers are also 6-12 ATS in their last 18 meetings with Indiana.

Rest of the NBA card

Pelicans at Pistons (Pick ’em, 227)
Thunder (-2.5, 219) at Timberwolves
Hornets at Trail Blazers (-9.5, 217.5)
Magic at Kings (-2, 210)
Cavaliers at Lakers (-14, 219.5)

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