Central Division rivals Chicago and Detroit face each other in their first game of the 2021-22 NBA season at the Little Caesars Arena on Wednesday night.
The Bulls head to this game after going 4-0 in preseason play. Chicago looked dominant in their four exhibition games, winning by at least 13 points three times. Zach LaVine looks like he’s got plenty of help this season and the Bulls could be the dark horse playoff team in the Eastern Conference.
The Pistons were a decent 2-2 in preseason play and one of their wins came against the Sixers. Detroit is looking to make headway this season after picking up pieces of their future last season in Jerami Grant, Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart, and Killian Hayes. The Pistons picked first in the 2021 NBA Draft but Cade Cunningham won’t be playing in their season opener with an injury.
The Chicago Bulls retooled their roster around Zach LaVine during the offseason, adding backcourt players like DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball, and Alex Caruso. With more playmakers, the Bulls looked like a cohesive unit in the preseason where they went undefeated in four games.
LaVine averaged 27.4 points, five rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game last season and he has looked even better during the preseason. DeRozan averaged 21.6 points per game for the Spurs last season and he’s going to provide LaVine with the much-needed scoring support. With Vucevic also averaging 21.5 points per game last campaign, opponents are looking a three elite 20-point scorers leading Chicago.
The Pistons are still in the middle of their rebuild. Although they found nice pieces last season in Jerami Grant, Saddiq Bey, Killian Hayes, Isiah Stewart. They also have this year’s top rookie pick in Cade Cunningham. If you look at their lineup, Detroit looks like one big star away from competing but getting that guy may not happen this season.
Jerami Grant had a breakout year last season, averaging 22.3 points per game. They will need a big night from him if they are to topple their visitors. Bey averaged 12.2 points per game while Stewart and Hayes combined to score an average of 13.7 points per game. Josh Jackson, Cory Joseph, and Hamidou Diallo were the only other double-digit scorers for this team last season. However, with Cunningham sidelined, the Pistons are at a big disadvantage against a complete and hungry Chicago Bulls team.
Chicago is 5-2 SU in their last seven games played. The Bulls are 7-3 SU in their last 10 games played against the Central Division, and 1-6 SU in their last seven games played in October.
Detroit is 0-5 SU in their last five games played. The Pistons are 1-7 SU in their last eight games played at home, and 0-6 SU in their last six games played against the Eastern Conference.
Head to head, the Bulls ae 7-0 SU in their last seven games played against the Pistons.
The Bulls are coming off a 4-0 preseason. Not only did they go undefeated, but they also looked like a team that is already ready for the regular season. Three of their four preseason wins were by at least 13 points and this team really looked good in their exhibition games.
Of course, the regular season is a different story but based on what we saw, the Bulls are a very dynamic team with plenty of capable scorers. They also like to play up-tempo and have several excellent finishers. Talk about an offseason upgrade. Perhaps Chicago had one of the best this past summer.
Detroit meanwhile is in the midst of a rebuild. The Pistons found nice pieces last season with Jerami Grant, Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart, and Killian Hayes. However, Detroit will be without its 2021 top pick Cade Cunningham who has an ankle injury. Sure, the Pistons have a decent lineup but losing Cunningham in the opener is a bummer for them.
A complete Chicago team led by LaVine, Vucevic, DeRozan, and Ball will be too much for the Pistons to defend. If you saw this group play in the preseason, you’d think they have been playing together for years. Billy Donovan’s core has some natural chemistry and teamwork in them. And that’s a good way to start the year.
The Bulls could be the dark horse team in the East. I’ll take them to beat the Pistons at home.
Prediction: Chicago Bulls -195
The Bulls are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games played. Chicago is 4-0 ATS in their last four games as betting favorites, 7-2 ATS in their last nine games as road favorites. However, they are just 2-5 ATS in their last seven games after an ATS win and also 2-5 ATS in their last seven games after a straight-up loss.
The Pistons are 0-5 ATS in their last five games played. Detroit is 4-13 ATS in their last 17 games against the Central Division, 2-9-1 ATS in their last 12 games after an ATS win, 1-5 ATS after scoring 100 or more points in their previous game, 0-5 ATS in their last five games as underdogs, 0-4 ATS in their last four games as home underdogs, and 0-4 ATS in their last four at home.
Head to head, the Bulls are 7-0 ATS in their last seven games played against the Pistons. Chicago is also 4-0 ATS in their last four meetings.
The Bulls really looked like a hungry team during the preseason and they were relentless in their offense. Chicago never let up even with big leads and continued to pound their opponents with baskets from various contributors.
The absence of Cade Cunningham is going to hurt the Pistons’ scoring and playmaking. Unfortunately for Detroit, Chicago has a lot of those with their core unit. I’ll lay the points here and take the more ready Chicago Bulls to cover the spread.
Prediction: Bulls -5
The total has gone under in 10 out of the last 11 games played by the Bulls. The under is 5-0 in their last five games after a straight-up win, 4-0 in their last four games as favorites, 5-0 in their last five road games, 6-0 in their last six after scoring 100 or more points in their previous game, and 7-1 in their last seven games after allowing 100 or more points in their previous game.
The total has gone under in five out of the last seven games played by the Pistons. The under is 5-1 in Detroit’s last six games as home underdogs, 12-3-1 in their last 16 after allowing 100 or more points in their previous game, 9-3 in their last 12 games as underdogs, and 4-1 in their last five games after scoring 100 or more points in their previous game.
Head to head, the under is 4-0 in their last 10 meetings. The under is also 7-3 in their last 10 games played in Detroit.
The Bulls ranked 12th in the league in scoring defense last season, giving up only 111.6 points per game. They’ve added two excellent defenders in Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan and look to be an even better defensive unit during the preseason where they allowed 108 or fewer points per game in four exhibition games.
Detroit still has many good scorers but losing Cade Cunningham doesn’t just affect their scoring. It’s Cunningham’s playmaking skills that they will probably miss more against this scrappy defensive team in Chicago.
With Hayes as the only playmaker, the Chicago defense will put pressure on Jerami Grant to score. Of course, Grant will be able to put up his points but as a team, I just can’t see the Pistons helping the Bulls get the score over the total.
Prediction: Under 218.5
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