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Surging Bulls host Thunder on Monday
By: Zach Cohen - StatFox
Published: 1/9/2017  at  8:33:00 AM
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at CHICAGO BULLS (19-18)

Tip-off: Monday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: Chicago -2.0, Total: 207.5

Jimmy Butler will be looking to lead the Bulls to a fourth straight win when the team hosts the Thunder on Monday.

2017 hasnít been very kind to the Thunder, as they have lost three of their past four games to open up the year. They did, however, win their most recent outing, as Oklahoma City beat Denver 121-106 as an eight-point home favorite. The Thunder were excellent on both sides of the ball in that game, shooting 48.3% from the floor and allowing the Nuggets to shoot just 40.4%. Itíll take that type of balanced effort to win again on Monday, as the Bulls are really playing well right now. Chicago is undefeated both SU and ATS in three 2017 games, and those wins have come over Charlotte, Cleveland and Toronto. The team has a golden opportunity to make it four in a row, as well. The Bulls are hosting a struggling Thunder team, and they also happen to be 3-1 both SU and ATS when facing Oklahoma City over the past three seasons. One trend that stands out when looking at this game is the fact that Chicago is 17-6 ATS versus teams that are outrebounding their opponents by three or more rebounds per game over the past two seasons.

The Thunder badly needed a win over the Nuggets, and PG Russell Westbrook (31.4 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 10.3 APG, 1.4 SPG) did everything in his power to help them earn just that. In a 121-106 victory, Westbrook had 32 points, 17 boards, 11 assists and three steals in 35 minutes of action. It was one of his most efficient shooting games of the year, as Westbrook was 10-for-20 from the floor and 7-for-12 from the outside. He has now hit 15-of-27 from three over the past two games, and itíd be big if he can keep up the hot shooting in this one. Oklahoma City will, however, need SG Victor Oladipo (16.2 PPG, 4.5 RPG) to find his stroke on Monday. Oladipo was 0-for-8 from three against the Nuggets last game, and the Thunder will need him to knock a few down in this one. Heíll also need to play well defensively, as the Bulls have a dangerous backcourt. On the inside, both Cs Steven Adams (12.2 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 1.1 BPG) and Enes Kanter (13.7 PPG, 6.3 RPG) will need to do what they do best. Adams has to do the dirty work around the basket, and Kanter must bring instant offense off the bench.

The Bulls are playing well right now, but they are also being carried by the red-hot SF Jimmy Butler (25.6 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 4.5 APG, 1.8 SPG). Butler had 42 points, 10 boards, five assists and three steals in Saturdayís win over the Raptors. Whatís amazing is that the 42 points he scored was only the second-highest amount of points he scored in the week. Butler dropped 52 on the Hornets on Jan. 2, and heíll be looking to stay hot coming into this one. SG Dwyane Wade (18.6 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 3.8 APG, 1.4 SPG) will, however, be equally as important in this one. The Bulls need Wade to outperform Victor Oladipo in this game or itíll be very tough for Chicago to win. C Robin Lopez (9.1 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 1.7 BPG) will also need to be ready to play at a high level on Monday. Oklahoma City has one of the best duos of centers in basketball, and both guys are going to make things tough on Monday. Lopez must stay out of foul trouble and find a way to be even more effective on the glass.

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