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NBA Spread, Over/Under and Prop Bets: Bulls-Hawks, Grizzlies-Celtics

Bets and analysis for a bout between the Bulls and Hawks and a game between the Grizzlies and Celtics, two of the hottest teams in the league.

The basketball focus in the month of March may shift to the collegiate level, but that doesn’t mean there’s not plenty of great NBA games to still go around.

Thursday night, the Bulls and Hawks meet in Atlanta with Chicago going for the season sweep and looking to get back in the win column. Further north in Boston, the Celtics play host to the Grizzlies and Ja Morant, who’s fresh off a 52-point outing.

I recruited Pat Benson of SI’s All Hawks to make some guest picks for this slate of games. Let’s get into it.

Season record: 99-101-2
Guest pickers: 77-113

Check the Latest NBA Lines at SI Sportsbook

Chicago Bulls' DeMar DeRozan pumps his fist after sinking a clutch 3-point basket during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022, in Chicago.

Chicago Bulls (39-23) vs. Atlanta Hawks (29-32)

Time: 7 p.m. ET
Spread: Bulls -1.5 (+100) | Hawks +1.5 (-118)
Moneyline: Bulls (-118) | Hawks (+100)
Total: Under 232.5 (-110) | Over 231.5 (-110)
Injuries: Bulls G Lonzo Ball—Out; Bulls F Patrick Williams—Out; Bulls G Alex Caruso—Out; Hawks G Trae Young—Questionable; Hawks F John Collins—Out; Hawks G Lou Williams—Day-to-Day; Hawks F Onyeka Okongwu—Day-to-Day

Bulls Profile

Record Over Last 10 Games: 6-4
ATS Record: 36-25-1
O/U Record: 32-28-2
Points Per Game/Rank: 112.4/8
Points Allowed Per Game/Rank: 110.5/18

Chicago dropped a road game to the Heat on Monday night, 112-99. That was the Bulls’ worst loss in over a month and their second straight defeat after dropping a game to the Grizzlies over the weekend, falling victim to Ja Morant’s 46-point night.

Hawks Profile

Record Over Last 10 Games: 4-6
ATS Record: 27-34
O/U Record: 33-28
Points Per Game/Rank: 112.2/9
Points Allowed Per Game/Rank: 111.5/19

Atlanta blew a 14-point halftime lead against the Celtics on Tuesday and ended up falling, 107-98. That was the Hawks’ second loss in three games—they beat the Raptors over the weekend and lost a close one to the Bulls in Chicago a week ago.

Kyle Wood’s Bets:

Spread Pick: Bulls -1.5

I liked this line before it fell to 1.5. Now, I love it. I think Chicago covers with relative ease on the road against a Hawks team it beat just a week ago thanks to clutch play from DeMar DeRozan. The Bulls won the previous three meetings—they’re going for the season sweep and I think they get it. Chicago doesn’t have a great road record, but its ATS record is much better than Atlanta’s and the Hawks are likely without John Collins again tonight with Trae Young (ankle) listed as questionable.

Over/Under Pick: Over 232.5

The Hawks aren’t putting up numbers without Young running the show. Atlanta is 2-3 without him, averaging 98.2 PPG, 14 points below its season average. But if he does play, I think these teams can both eclipse 110 with the Bulls potentially getting into the 120-point range to send this game over. The combined totals in each of their games this season are 248, 248 and 220. Two defenses in the bottom half of the league up against two top-10 offenses? I’ll take the over, please.

Prop: DeMar DeRozan Over 30.5 Points (-112)

DeRozan just wrapped up a month where he averaged 34.2 PPG and 35 a night was the usual for a stretch. He came back to Earth in the Miami loss, putting up just 18, his lowest point total since mid-January. DeRozan averages 30.7 PPG against Atlanta this season and went for 37 on the Hawks just last week. Even on the road, I think he resumes the 30-plus point streak.

Guest Picker Pat Benson’s Bets:

These two teams have faced off three times this season, with the Bulls taking every game. This contest was originally scheduled for Jan. 24, but the league rescheduled it for tonight after a COVID outbreak in the Bulls' locker room in late January.

It doesn't really matter when this game takes place as the Bulls are the superior team. DeRozan has led the team to the second seed in the Eastern Conference. The veteran shooting guard averages 28.2 points and 5 assists per game.

Meanwhile, it's tough to find a more inconsistent team than the Hawks. They are three games below .500 and cling to the 10th and final play-in spot. Sure, Young's play has been transcendent with 27.9 points and 9.3 assists per game. But with the All-Star point guard joining a long injury report, the Hawks are in deep trouble tonight.

Spread Pick: Bulls -1.5

The Bulls have the third-best record against the spread, while the Hawks are 23rd in the NBA. Chicago won its previous games against the Hawks this season, and I fully expect them to complete the season sweep with ease tonight.

Over/Under Pick: Over 232.5

Fans are in for a treat tonight as this game features two of the top-five offenses in the NBA. Both teams are dealing with injuries, but it's mostly defensive specialists who are sidelined. Let's take the over.

Prop: Nikola Vucevic Over 17.5 Points (-104)

The Hawks are without John Collins and Onyeka Okongwu. That means Bulls' center Nikola Vucevic is going to eat tonight. Take the over for Vucevic total points.

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant reacts during the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs on Monday, Feb. 28, 2022, in Memphis, Tenn

Memphis Grizzlies (43-20) vs. Boston Celtics (37-27)

Time: 7:30 p.m. | TNT
Spread: Grizzlies +2.5 (-110) | Celtics -2.5 (-110)
Moneyline: Grizzlies (+110) | Celtics (-133)
Total: Under 223.5 (-110) | Over 224.5 (-110)
Injuries: Grizzlies F Dillon Brooks—Out; Grizzlies G John Konchar—Day-to-Day; Celtics G Jaylen Brown—Day-to-Day

Grizzlies Profile

Record Over Last 10 Games: 8-2
ATS Record: 42-21
O/U Record: 32-28-3
Points Per Game/Rank: 113.9/3
Points Allowed Per Game/Rank: 109.1/15

Memphis emerged victorious in each of its last two games, and Morant has been the talk of the league for what he did in those two games. He set career-highs in consecutive games and went for 52 last time out against the Spurs.

Celtics Profile

Record Over Last 10 Games: 8-2
ATS Record: 31-31-2
O/U Record: 28-35-1
Points Per Game/Rank: 109.2/17
Points Allowed Per Game/Rank: 103.8/3

Boston showed resolve in its massive comeback against the Hawks earlier this week. The Celtics are 8-2 over their last 10 games but it’s fair to question the competition they’ve seen—Philly and Denver aside. Memphis will be a true challenge for the surging C’s in the first meeting of the season between these clubs.

Kyle Wood’s Bets:

Spread Pick: Grizzlies +2.5

Memphis has the best Against the Spread record and their impressive road record is on par with how well Boston defends its home court. I might waver more on this pick if it weren’t for Boston guard Jaylen Brown (ankle) being likely to miss the game. He injured his ankle Tuesday and played just three minutes. The way the Grizzlies are playing, specifically Morant, it’s hard to bet against them right now—and it has been all season. Boston missing its second leading scorer makes this an easier choice.

Over/Under Pick: Under 223.5

Boston’s suffocating defense helps keep a lot of their games from hitting the over. Memphis’ electric offense can certainly work to counter that, but I don’t necessarily expect the Celtics to put up a huge sum of points, again, without Brown on the court. Boston managed just 107 points last time out against a below-average Hawks team that was short handed—the Grizzlies aren’t a lockdown defense, but they’re better on that side of the ball than Atlanta.

Prop: Ja Morant Over 30.5 Points (-106)

Does this one really need explaining? Morant has 98 points over his last two games. Small sample size and not necessarily repeatable (maybe), I get it. But Morant has hit this mark in three of his last eight games, averaged 33 PPG in February and his shot attempts and field goal percentage have gone up along with his free-throw attempts. With Robert Williams roaming down low, Boston will have a plan for the third-year guard, but he’s been beating teams in a variety of ways (7-8 on threes over his last two) and I think that continues.

Guest picker Pat Benson’s Bets:

Can an immovable object halt an unstoppable force? The Grizzlies have a top-five offense and play at a break-neck pace. Morant also likes to add insult to injury by putting opponents on posters with his aggressive dunks. True to the city's 'Grit and Grind' mentality, the Grizzlies aren't great outside shooters but they lead the league in rebounds and get plenty of easy looks at the rim.

But don't get too carried away. The Celtics have the second-best defense in the NBA and only got more stingy when they added Derrick White at the trade deadline. The Celtics have won eight of their last ten games and have a clear identity for the first time in recent memory. Even better, Jayson Tatum has emerged from a midseason slump just in time for the final stretch of the regular season.

Spread Pick: Grizzlies +2.5

The Grizzlies are the better team. Factor in Brown's absence tonight with an ankle injury, and this narrow spread seems like easy money. Take the Grizzlies.

Over/Under Pick: Over 223.5

These two teams combine for an average of 223 points per game. I expect the Grizzlies pace to dictate the game, which will lead to a higher-scoring affair.

Prop: Ja Morant Under 30.5 Points

I expect a high-scoring game, but you must give some respect to the Celtics' defense. Marcus Smart and Derrick White will not let Ja Morant score 30+ points. Take the under on Ja Morant's point total.

DFS Value Plays

(Prices based on 7 p.m. main slate)
PG Gabe Vincent, Heat (FD: $4,900 | DK: $4,500)
SG Devin Vassell, Spurs ($6,300 | $5,500)
SF Saddiq Bey, Pistons ($6,500 | $6,400)
SF/PF Scottie Barnes, Raptors ($6,600 | $6,400)
C/ Ivica Zubac, Clippers ($7,200 | $6,500)

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