Bulls vs Knicks Picks and Predictions: Chicago Takes Care of Business at MSG

The Bulls have been in a constant state of freefall for almost a month but a crucial win against Cleveland and a trip to Madison Square Garden to take on the Knicks may be just what the doctor ordered — as our NBA betting picks explain.

Last Updated: Mar 28, 2022 12:53 PM ET Read Time: 4 min
Nikola Vucevic Chicago Bulls NBA
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The Chicago Bulls’ charge toward the postseason has all the ferocity of a newborn deer, as the team wobbles to the finish line with five losses in their last seven games. 

A trip to Madison Square Garden is usually good for what ails you, but the New York Knicks enter Monday’s contest on a three-game winning stride. That streak includes tossing a wrench into the playoff plans of Charlotte and Miami. Could Chicago be next? Books don’t seem to think so, pegging the Bulls as road favorites tonight.

Here are our free NBA picks and predictions for Bulls at Knicks on March 28.

Bulls vs Knicks odds

This odds widget represents the best odds available for each betting market from regulated sportsbooks.

Chicago opened as big as -5 on the road but has been slimmed to -3.5 with some buyback bumping the spread to -4 at some shops. The total hit the board at 224 points and has been hacked down to 219 as of Monday morning.

Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right until tip-off and be sure to check out the full NBA odds before betting to ensure you get the best number.

Bulls vs Knicks predictions

Predictions made on 3/28/2022 at  12:00 p.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.

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Bulls vs Knicks game info

Location: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Date: Monday, March 28, 2022
Tip-off: 7:30 p.m. ET

Bulls vs Knicks betting preview

Key injuries

Bulls: Lonzo Ball G (Out).
Knicks: Quentin Grimes G (Questionable), Nerlens Noel C (Out), Derrick Rose G (Out), Kemba Walker G (Out), Cam Reddish F (Out).
Find our latest NBA injury reports.

Betting trend to know

The Knicks are 1-8 ATS in their last nine home games. Find more NBA betting trends for Bulls vs. Knicks.

Bulls vs Knicks picks and predictions

Our side and total predictions are based upon our analysis of the line and total in this game. Our best bet is our favorite pick across all markets.

Spread analysis

There’s been a bit of a brownout for the Bulls on offense this month, watching their scoring output sink during this skid. Chicago is averaging only 107.5 points per game in March and that’s shrunk to 104.7 over the past seven games – a significant dip for a squad that was hanging 112.4 points per outing in the first five months of the schedule.

However, that scoring attack could be waking up as Chicago hits the home stretch. The Bulls scored just 98 points in Saturday’s win at Cleveland but shot 48% from the field and saw all five starters in double figures for the first time since mid-February. The Cavaliers are no pushovers on defense and do a great job slowing up transition attacks – like the Bulls. The Knicks, on the other hand…

New York enters this week ranked out as the worst defense versus transition, giving up a league-high scoring frequency of 54.6% for 1.19 points per possession. Chicago isn’t married to transition but is highly effective when picking up the pace, boasting a league-high 56.2% scoring frequency on the run while collecting 1.2 points per possession in transition.

The young Knicks are scrappy, as evidenced by their three-game winning streak on the road and a 6-4 SU road mark since the All-Star break (8-2 ATS) but haven’t had the same success at home. New York is 2-4 SU and just 1-5 ATS inside MSG since the break, with an average margin of -3.2 points in that span.

Chicago is trying to hang on to the No. 5 spot in the East and avoid slipping into the muddy waters of the play-in games. They've also won and covered in its last two meetings with the Knicks.

Prediction: Bulls -3.5 (-110)

Over/Under analysis

The Bulls have had a tough time on defense this month, giving up big scores to the likes of New Orleans, Milwaukee, Phoenix, and Utah over the past 10 days. 

Granted, all of those contests came on the road (the Bulls’ defensive efficiency spikes from 1.081 to 1.110 away from home) and many of those foes play a frantic pace with the basketball or rank atop the league in offensive metrics.

New York rolls out one of the more methodical attacks in the league, owning the second-lowest pace rating in the NBA and the 24th-best advanced offensive rating. Chicago has been much more comfortable defensively against like opponents, checking Cleveland (twice) and Toronto to less than 100 points in the team’s three wins over the past eight outings.

We mentioned the Bulls’ success in transition, but Chicago doesn’t breathe tempo, going run-and-gun on only 14% of possessions (eighth-lowest play frequency). Head coach Billy Donovan is trying to replicate Saturday’s results in the halfcourt set, employing more ball movement and a higher assist ratio – getting away from the Bulls’ default isolation offense. 

That inside-out movement requires more time off the shot clock to set up, with Donovan wanting to run the offense through versatile center Nikola Vucevic. New York’s defense has been feisty this month, posting an advanced defensive rating of 109.9 (fifth best) and limiting foes to only 22.1 assists per contest (second lowest). 

We’ve already missed the best of the number on this Over/Under total, with the number dropping from 224 to 219 overnight. However, this total is much higher than their previous three on the season (216.5, 213, and 210.5) and the Bulls and Knicks have stayed below the total in five of their last six meetings.

Prediction: Under 219.5 (-110)

Best bet

As mentioned, Bulls head coach Billy Donovan has been trying to get his team to run the offense through center Nikola Vucevic in an effort to diversify Chicago’s playbook. 

The Bulls can score in transition, have solid pick-and-roll sets and have one-on-one options like DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine when the shot clock starts to tick down. But utilizing Vucevic’s range to stretch the defense and his passing adds another wrinkle to Chicago’s attack just in time for the postseason.

“There's times we need to move it better,” Donovan told The Athletic. “And there’s times where I think that we’ve got to find Vooch in more of those situations because he’s such a good connector from one side of the floor to the other. I think we’ve missed opportunities to do that.” 

It’s a very small sample size under this philosophy but we’ve seen Vucevic’s assist totals jump to three and four the past two games after topping out at two over the past eight games. On the season, the 6-foot-10 Montenegrin averages 3.3 assists per game.

Tonight’s matchup with the Knicks’ slower-tempo is the perfect petri dish to test Donovan’s halfcourt concoctions and get “Vooch” Over his modest assist total.

Pick: Nikola Vucevic Over 2.5 assists (+125)

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