Chicago Bulls vs. Toronto Raptors NBA Playoffs Play-In Game — Prediction, Starting Lineups, Odds (04/12/23)
In the NBA’s Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament, the No. 9 seed Toronto Raptors host the No. 10 seed Chicago Bulls on Wednesday, April 12. The Raptors are 2-1 against the Bulls this season and are the betting favorite in this matchup.
The starting lineups for both teams should be at full strength, as there are no key players on the injury report. That should remove any uncertainty when it comes to the betting prediction and best bet picks.
The winner of this game will play on Friday against the Miami Heat for a chance to attain the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The winner of Friday night’s game will earn the No. 8 seed and a matchup with the No. 1 seed Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs.
Read on for in-depth analysis of this Bulls vs. Raptors matchup.
Chicago Bulls vs. Toronto Raptors Betting Odds
The Raptors opened as -5 favorites at home in this matchup, and that line has not moved as of this writing on Tuesday afternoon. Toronto has -200 odds on the moneyline, while Chicago is at +170.
The public likes the underdog in this matchup. Approximately 75% of the money bet against the spread at DraftKings has been on Chicago, per VSiN. The Bulls are also getting just over 50% of the handle on the moneyline.
The over/under for this matchup has held at its opening line of 214.5 points. That line might seem low, but the last two matchups between these teams have both been well under that number (202 and 208).
The betting splits on the total point to some larger bets being placed on the under, which has received 57% of the money on just 21% of the bets at DraftKings.
The implied outcome of these odds is the Raptors winning 109.75-104.75.
Chicago Bulls vs. Toronto Raptors Prediction
My pick: Bulls +5 (-110), Under 214.5 (-110)
Only one point separated these teams across their three matchups this season, with the Raptors getting the edge 314-313. These teams also finished the season separated by just 0.2 points in net rating, with the Raptors finishing at 1.5 (12th in the league) and the Bulls at 1.3 (13th).
These teams are clearly very evenly matched, and it’s no coincidence that they finished the season separated by just one game in the standings. In such a tight matchup, give me the team getting the five points in a game I expect to come down to the wire.
Add in the fact that the Bulls have the league’s best road record since March 1 at 8-2, and that Fred VanVleet finished the season in a terrible shooting slump, and I love the chances of the Bulls to cover the spread. I am tempted to take the +170 odds for Chicago to pull off the upset, but I prefer the safer play in this case.
I also like the under in this game. Forget that the under hit all three times these teams played this season (and the last four going back to last season). These were two of the lowest-scoring teams in the league this season. The Bulls were 22nd in the league in scoring at 113.1 per game, while the Raptors were 24th with 112.9 per game.
When you consider that games tend to slow down in the playoffs, with teams deploying more half-court sets and shortening their benches, the chances of this game far exceeding the point total of the last two contests (202 and 208, as mentioned above) seems unlikely.
- The Raptors are 15-5-1 ATS in their last 21 home games, while the Bulls are 6-2-1 ATS in their last nine road games.
- The Under is 5-1 in the Raptors’ last six games following a straight-up win.
- The Under is 4-0 in the last four meetings between these teams.
The Raptors need to get a good performance from their star point guard Fred VanVleet, who has a tough matchup with the Bulls’ defensive-minded backcourt. This game could ultimately come down to the turnover battle.
Fred VanVleet vs Patrick Beverley
As mentioned above, VanVleet ended the season in a bit of a slump. Over the final six games, he averaged just 14.3 points per game on 32% shooting (24% from three). This is especially notable considering he shot a dreadful 1-for-11 (1-for-9 from three) the last time Toronto played Chicago.
That game on February 28 was the only time these teams played after the Bulls acquired defensive pest Patrick Beverley. VanVleet’s performance that night cannot be attributed solely to Beverley’s defensive impact, but it definitely played a role.
Beverly and reserve guard Alex Caruso form a stout defensive combination in the Bulls’ backcourt. Toronto needs VanVleet to bust out of his slump and pull his weight offensively if they want to advance beyond this game. They cannot expect to beat Chicago again with another poor performance by their star point guard.
If Chicago can keep VanVleet in check offensively, they stand a much better chance to come away with the victory.
The Raptors are excellent at both forcing turnovers and protecting the ball, leading the league in both categories by a fairly significant margin. They commit turnovers on just 11.8% of their offensive possessions, while they force turnovers on 16.9% of their defensive possessions.
The Bulls also excel in this area, as they are sixth in the league at forcing turnovers (15% of possessions) and eighth at protecting the ball (13.3%). That translates to them being fifth in scoring points off turnovers (18.3 per 100 possessions) and eighth in allowing points off turnovers (15.5 per 100 possessions).
The Raptors had a clear edge in this category in three games against the Bulls this season. They forced 59 turnovers in those games while committing just 36. This led to a 67-47 advantage in points off turnovers.
If this is a slower-paced, low-scoring game as expected, then possessions will be at a premium. The Bulls cannot afford to give Toronto extra possessions and easy baskets by turning the ball over. If the Raptors can force turnovers at a similar rate to the last three games, that could give them enough of an edge to keep their season alive.
Chicago Bulls Starting Lineups
Toronto Raptors Starting Lineups
Chicago Bulls Injuries: SF Justin Lewis (O – knee)
Toronto Raptors Injuries: SF Otto Porter Jr. (O – foot)