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Why the Chicago Bulls are a Solid Outside Bet for the NBA Title

The Chicago Bulls last won the NBA title when Michael Jordan completed this glittering career with the United Center side in 1998, helping himself to a sixth NBA Championship ring. Now Billy Donovan's side is very much in the running to bring the franchise's long-running drought to an end.

The last four seasons have seen the Bulls turn in losing records, but Donovan's first season in charge did at least show a slight improvement on the work done by the likes of Fred Holberg and Jim Boylen, and he's continued to push Chicago in the right direction this time around.

If you look at the NBA score predictions today, you'll now see that the Bulls start off most of their clashes as favorites. Their current record of 28-17 has taken them to the top of the Central Division and the third spot in the Eastern Conference behind the Miami Heat and the Brooklyn Nets. They are now well placed to push on and collect that first postseason spot since 2016-17 when they limply fell to the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.

Their success this season owes a lot to Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan Nikola Vucevic, and Billy Donovan is full of praise for those fueling their newfound title ambitions but is also something of a tough taskmaster, even after they completed a ninth straight win (with their 130-122 victory over the Washington Wizards), he wanted more from his young team;

"I'd like for us to take some more [threes]"

"If we did that, we'd be good. But I think one of the areas we need to get better at is we've got to get better at playing downhill. I think when you get downhill, you force rotation; you force a second defender into the paint to help. That's when your spray-out threes start to come.

Donovan went on to add.

"There's going to be some nights where we go against top-five, top-10 defensive teams where points are hard to come by, and it becomes kind of a grind-out kind of game, and you've got to have something that you can control to fall back on,"

Indeed this is the crucial point. The Bulls need to be able to go toe to toe with the top teams, especially if they make it to the postseason; it is in these games where it really counts.

They lost LaVine to injury and are now in something of a sticky patch with seven losses in their last nine games. Among those defeats came a real thumping from the Golden State Warriors, a true title contender, and a similar thrashing by the Nets.

The regular season is a marathon and not a sprint, but the form you take from here to the postseason is critical, and Donovan will have to hope that his team has the heart to take it on from there as they don't really have the experience.