NBA Betting Friday: Miami Heat at Chicago BullsMiami Heat at Chicago Bulls
Time: 8 PM EST, Jan. 4, 2013
Spread: MIA -7
M/L: MIA -125, CHI +105
Betting Odds from Bookmaker
Assessing the point spread for this one set by NBA Oddsmakers is difficult. There’s a good reason for that: LeBron James’ status for the game is uncertain.
James is not at full strength, and may sit this one out. If he does, that drastically changes the perspective of bettors. James is nursing a bruised right knee. The injury is not thought to be serious, but it still could keep him out of tonight’s contest.
Since James joined the Heat, they are 2-5 in games without him, and two of those losses have come to the Chicago Bulls. Yes, the Bulls are still without one-time MVP Derrick Rose, but they sit at 17-14 on the year and are a far better team than most anticipated they would be without their dynamic playmaker.
The 22-8 Heat were barely able to beat the Orlando Magic without their de facto number one option Glen Davis. They escaped with a two point victory in overtime, but Nikola Vucevic set an Orlando Magic record with 29 rebounds and exposed a glaring weakness on the Heat interior. Vucevic is a great talent and getting better with each and every game, but he still shouldn’t be abusing Erik Spolestra’s squad to the tune at which he did.
Dwyane Wade was realistic about the team’s prospects, saying that they’re “not that dominant where we can come in and blow every team out.”
Blowing out the Bulls may not even be a consideration, despite the fact that the Heat are the East’s highest scoring team. The Bulls are notoriously tough defensive squad under coach Tom Thibodeau and the Heat are just 3-7 in games in which they have scored under 100 points.
The Bulls have allowed just 87.3 points in their three games since the bad loss to the Houston Rockets on Christmas day, in which they gave up 120 to James Harden and company.
Thibbs said the energy “was better, but not what it needs to be,” regarding the loss to Orlando. “We had good offensive energy, and not the defensive energy.”
The Bulls aren’t exactly loaded with offensive talent without Rose, but Orlando has even less scoring options and still put up 110. Luol Deng is still a capable scorer, and even though he isn’t the kind of talent a team wants to be a number one option, with Derrick Rose out, he’s as good as any.
Deng is having a near career year, averaging his highest scoring average (17.7 points per game) since the 2006-07 season.
The Bulls will also receive a boost from the return of Joakim Noah, who missed the last contest with flu-like symptoms. Noah’s passing has been superb this season, as he leads all centers in the league with 4.5 assists per game. Noah’s facilitating the Bulls offense from the high post, and is a near lock to make his first All-Star appearance this season.
With so many things clicking for the Bulls, can they come into American Airlines Arena and pull a quasi-upset over a Heat team that may be without their MVP?
Vegas oddsmakers aren’t setting the line in their favor, but without James, perhaps it should be.