Chicago Bulls' Chandler Hutchison (15) goes to the basket against Indiana Pacers' T.J. Warren (1) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020, in Indianapolis.
Chicago Bulls' Chandler Hutchison (15) goes to the basket against Indiana Pacers' T.J. Warren (1) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020, in Indianapolis.|Darron Cummings | Associated Press
NBA

NBA Friday picks: Bulls vs Nets, and Trail Blazers vs Lakers — is Chicago's young core starting to compete?

Greg Frank

Greg Frank

1-0 Thursday, 82-78-1 overall.

Bulls (+5.5) @ Nets (223)

Pick: Bulls +5.5

Despite backing them, we wrote on Wednesday about the Nets’ struggles as a home favorite against the spread. Our play was focused much more betting against the Pistons, Brooklyn’s opponent on hump day. Amongst the teams on the playoff fringe in the East right now, the Pistons we felt were the ones least interested in the seventh or eighth spot. One of those other teams in the mix visits the Barclays Center tonight in the Chicago Bulls. In the last couple seasons, Chicago has underwent a rebuild which really started when it traded Jimmy Butler to Minnesota on draft night in 2017. The Bulls feel sort of similar to the Grizzlies in the West. Both were perennial playoff teams for most of the decade that just ended and towards the end of the decade hit the reset button. Now their young cores have chances to turn the page from rebuilding to beginning to compete with playoff berths. Memphis is better right now and likely already has its franchise player in Ja Morant on the roster, but that’s more important to a small market franchise that won’t be as attractive in free agency. The Bulls are currently three games south of the playoff cut line in the East and if they are to qualify for the postseason, they could be an interesting sell moving forward. In a market like Chicago, with young players like Zach Lavine, Wendell Carter and Lauri Markkanen already in place, the Bulls could be attractive to stars in free agency soon. All of this is to say that we think these guys are hungry to get out of the lottery and into the playoffs and we’ll take the 5.5 points we get with Chicago tonight against the Nets.

Trail Blazers (+13) @ Lakers (229.5)

Pick: Trail Blazers +13

I am betting on the Lakers opponent in their first game after Kobe Bryant’s passing. However, I am not necessarily betting against the Lakers here. I’m just betting the number and anticipating Portland keeping this game closer than 13 points. Given all the emotions this week, it wouldn’t shock me to find out that this game ends up being one of the more bet on games in the NBA regular season. Obviously, the average NBA fan is going to want to bet the Lakers in the first game they play after Bryant’s death. But I do think there’s a tax being applied to the point spread as a result. This is a Portland team that just handled the Rockets with ease on Wednesday. The Trail Blazers are three games behind Memphis for the final playoff spot out West. That win against Houston might have been a statement that they’re not going away. Maybe I’ll spend a few more days in purgatory for this bet, but remember to leave your emotions at the door when wagering. Under normal circumstances, this line wouldn’t be as high as it is.

Bettors Insider
www.bettorsinsider.com