Bulls vs. Cavaliers NBA expert prediction and odds for MLK Day (Back Cleveland and Under)

Both teams enter Monday night’s matchup playing well. Which team will keep it up in a matchup of division rivals?

Jan 11, 2024; Paris, FRANCE; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) celebrates a three against Brooklyn.
Jan 11, 2024; Paris, FRANCE; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) celebrates a three against Brooklyn. / Presse Sports-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers have surged over the last month as one of the NBA’s hottest teams, winning nine of 12. Cleveland has the Eastern Conference’s longest winning streak at four straight heading into Monday’s divisional tilt. 

The Cavs have done it with defense, holding each of its last four opponents to 102 points or less. Can they extend the winning streak against the visiting Bulls? Chicago has won four of five, but got a big step up in class on tap on Monday. 

Here’s the betting preview for the two Central Division rivals. 

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Bulls vs. Cavaliers odds, spread and total

Bulls vs. Cavaliers how to watch

  • Date: Monday, Jan. 15 
  • Game time: 7 p.m.
  • Venue: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse
  • How to watch (TV): Bally Sports Ohio
  • Bulls record: 19-22
  • Cavaliers record: 22-15

Bulls vs. Cavaliers injury reports

Chicago Bulls injury report

  • Julian Phillips (fibula): out
  • Ayo Dosunmu (shoulder): questionable
  • Patrick Williams (ankle): questionable 
  • Dalen Terry (knee): probable

Cleveland Cavaliers injury report

  • Darius Garland (jaw): out
  • Ty Jerome (ankle): out
  • Max Strus (knee): questionable

Bulls vs. Cavaliers key players to watch

Chicago Bulls

Zach LaVine: After missing all of December, LaVine returned to the lineup Jan. 5 and has helped lead the Bulls to four wins in five games, averaging 16.8 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists per game. 

Coby White: White helped keep the Bulls afloat in the Eastern Conference Playoff race while the team got healthy. White is averaging 18.5 points per game this season, but he’s averaged 22.6 since December. He had scored 20-plus in five straight games before being held to 15 on 6-of-13 shooting in Chicago’s 122-116 win over the Spurs Saturday.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Jarrett Allen: Donovan Mitchell stole the headlines in France with his 45-point outing, but Allen was efficient on offense (12 points on 3-of-5 shooting, 6-for-6 at the free-throw line) and 4 assists. He also tallied 4 blocks and grabbed 12 rebounds for his eighth consecutive double-double. Allen’s a big reason why Cleveland has been one of the best defensive teams this season. 

Bulls vs. Cavaliers prediction and pick

It’s a battle of two of the top defensive squads in the NBA. Cleveland ranks fourth in the NBA in scoring defense (111.3 points per game), but the Cavs are also top-5 in opposing field goal percentage and 8th in the league in rebounding and overall defensive rating. Chicago is shooting just 45.9% from the field, the fifth-worst mark in the NBA.

Chicago has the No. 12 scoring defense and ranks 15th in overall defensive rating. The Bulls have struggled on the road this season (6-12) and their recent success stretch of four wins and five games has come against sub-par squads in Charlotte, Houston and San Antonio. 

Cleveland has been great at home (13-8) this season and should be able to pull away from Chicago, which has struggled against formidable opponents. Fade the Bulls’ recent success, but also look for the under with defense being the strength of both teams and the element of rest. Chicago is on one day’s rest since visiting San Antonio and Cleveland is coming back from Paris. 

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change

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