Basketball is absolutely huge in the United States. The NBA is behind only the NFL and the MLB as the most watched sport across the entire country. However, outside of the 50 states, it doesn’t hold quite such the same appeal. That is not to say it isn’t still popular, as it certainly is. It is more that other sports such as soccer, rugby and cricket are viewed by more people in other parts of the globe.
That said, if the average person in Europe, Asia or Oceania were asked to name just one NBA team, they would probably all go for the Chicago Bulls. During the 1990s, they were the dominant force in the sport, thanks largely to one man; Michael Jordan. Jordan was, and still is, an absolute phenomenon, easily the most recognisable basketball player in the history of the sport. Thanks to him, and also Scottie Pippin and Dennis Rodman, the Bulls were almost unstoppable, winning the NBA championship 6 times, in 1991, 92, 93, 96 ,97, and 98. Anyone betting on the NBA during this period would certainly have looked for odds on the Bulls to win, no matter their opposition, as well as place bets on Jordan to be the high points scorer.
Since Jordan retired, the Bulls are no longer the betting favourites they once were. Nowadays if people are searching for NBA betting lines, they are more likely to place bets on the likes of the Milwaukee Bucks or the Golden State Warriors, as they often have better odds to win matches. In fact, since their last championship in 1998, the Bulls haven’t even made it through the playoffs and into the finals, which shows just how reliant they were on Jordan during his career. The betting odds are no longer in the Bulls’ favour.
However, with each new season brings new opportunities to forget the past, and hopefully move on and become successful once again. Can the Bulls shake off the shackles, upset the betting odds and grab their 7th NBA title? Let’s look at how they’ve started the 2021/22 season, and look at some of their upcoming fixtures, before making a prediction on where they’ll finish this year.
Four years without the playoffs taking its toll
Before looking at how the Bulls are doing so far this season, it is worth looking back at the previous few campaigns, to see how they’ve struggled. For a side so often associated with success, they have failed to make it to the postseason for the last 4 seasons. That simply isn’t good enough for a franchise with the fanbase and the players that the Bulls have.
Head coach Billy Donovan was hired in 2020 to turn their fortunes around. Last season they ended with a 31-41, which saw them finish only 11th in the Eastern Conference, missing out by one to the Charlotte Hornets. As it was Donovan’s first season in charge, he was able to get away with it, but rest assured the same results this year would not be tolerated.
All positive at the United Center
Clearly whatever Donovan worked on with the player over the summer break worked, as they have started the new campaign in great style. With 23 games played so far, they currently sit in 2nd place in the Eastern, behind only the Brooklyn Nets. This is quite the turnaround from their last few seasons.
Looking through their results so far, there are a number of performances that immediately jump out as impressive. Beginning the season positively is always imperative, so beating the Detroit Pistons 94-88 was just the start that they needed.
That the Pistons are one of their main rivals made the victory all the sweeter, as did the 97-82 win they recorded against Detroit at the United Center only a few days later. Fans who placed bets on the Bulls to do the double over the Pistons would have been overjoyed at the outcome of these matches.
Other results from those first few days that are worth noting was the 128-112 win over the New Orleans Pelicans, the 111-108 victory against the Toronto Raptors, and the 107-99 triumph against the Utah Jazz.
The Boston Celtics are one of the most prestigious sides in NBA history, so beating them is something all sides aspire to. The Bulls achieved this on the 1st of November, running out 128-114 winners. Statement wins like this make the oddsmakers stand up and think that the Bulls could be a force to be reckoned with once again.
Can they keep it going?
That is the big question. Their next fixture sees them take on the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclay Center, in what should be a fascinating match-up. Bettors will have a tough decision to make, as the odds are very even on each side. If the Bulls can grab a victory, then they really might be on course for the playoffs again after 5 years. But even if they lose, hopefully they have enough about them to not lose momentum, and still make it to the postseason next year.