Bulls vs. Suns Free NBA Picks and Odds Breakdown

Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns. Chris Coduto/Getty Images/AFP

The Phoenix Suns should have the edge for Friday’s NBA picks when they host the Chicago Bulls – depending on which players suit up.

Chicago Bulls vs. Phoenix Suns

Friday, March 18, 2022 – 10:00 PM EDT at Footprint Center

The Chicago Bulls were in big trouble. Their ardent fans didn’t realize it at the time, but when the Bulls lost both Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso to the injured list two months ago, Chicago’s playoff chances were put in peril. The Bulls went 12-10 SU and 10-11-1 ATS without their “true” point guards, coughing up the lead in the Eastern Conference standings; they’re now in fifth place, just two games out of the dreaded play-in tournament.

The good news for Bulls supporters: Caruso is back. The bad news: Chicago have to visit the Phoenix Suns this Friday. The Suns are first overall at 55-14 SU and 37-32 ATS, and they’ve 7-point favorites on the NBA odds board at FanDuel after opening at -8 overseas. That extra point should be just enough to make Phoenix worth a slight lean in this matchup.

Ball Don’t Lie

We’d be more enthusiastic about fading Chicago (41-27 SU, 37-30-1 ATS) if they didn’t have Caruso in uniform. He’s the best defender on this team by a considerable margin, and one of the most underrated players in the league. However, even with Ball (their second-best defender on paper) out of commission, the Bulls have continued to bring Caruso in off the bench, going instead with rookie SG Ayo Dosunmu in the starting lineup. That’s part of the reason the Bulls are 2-2 SU and 1-3 ATS since Caruso’s return.

The other part is they’re just not as good as the betting public would like to think. Chicago’s plus-1.2 point differential isn’t horrible, but it’s only seventh in the East, and well behind the top seven teams in the West. With Ball out, and Patrick Williams (wrist) about to start a rehab stint in the G-League, the Bulls will have to gut it out if they want to maintain that top-six spot in the Eastern standings.

3 In The Key

Phoenix is a difficult place to get the job done. Playing at a relatively high altitude (elev. 1,086 ft) is hard enough, but the Suns make it even harder by serving up the NBA’s No. 3-ranked offense at 112.7 points per 100 possessions – and the No. 3 defense at 103.6 points allowed. That’s already a 9-point difference in a game’s worth of possessions.

Of course, the Bulls are a bit better than your league-average team. And the Suns won’t have Chris Paul (thumb) in the lineup until mid-April. However, Phoenix have one of the best home-court atmospheres in the league, and their backcourt depth has kept them in business at 8-4 SU and 6-6 ATS since Paul’s last game.

There’s still the question of who else might sit out for the Suns this Friday. Cam Johnson (quad) and Jae Crowder (groin) both missed their last game against Houston and are listed as day-to-day; back-up point guard Cameron Payne is also playing through a sore ankle. Given the small profit margin we’re assigning Phoenix here, it’s probably worth it to wait for the shoot-around and see who’s going to play for the Suns before you make your NBA picks – and to see if any more Chicago money comes in and moves the line any further. Bet accordingly.

NBA Pick: Suns -7 (-110) at FanDuel