NBA Eastern Conference Betting Action: Cleveland Cavaliers at Chicago Bulls

Luol-Deng-bulls-33Cleveland at Chicago
Time: 8 PM ET, Dec 21, 2013
Spread: CHI -3.5
Total: 186

Odds courtesy of Bovada

Chicago has all but fallen apart in the wake of Derrick Rose’s season-ending injury, but the 9-16 Bulls will find itself 3.5-point favorites according to NBA oddsmakers as the team hosts Cleveland in NBA action on Saturday night.

The Bulls have been characteristically good at what Tom Thibodeau coaches his teams to do: playing defense and rebounding. The Bulls still rank 3rd in the NBA in points allowed, surrendering just 93.6 per contest, while also ranking 7th in rebounding with 45.1 boards per contest.

The problem is a lot of the rebounding is a result of poor shooting, and the Bulls aren’t even managing to outscore opponents to the behest of its defense. The team averages just 91.4 points per game and is clearly without options as Luol Deng has assumed the role of top scorer (and is averaging 19 points per game this season).

Deng hasn’t had a lot of help. Carlos Boozer is having a pitiful season thus far with just 14.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, and Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, Joakim Noah and Mike Dunleavy have all chipped in 10 to 11 points per game. It is a team lacking its leader and most expect the Bulls to be lottery bound when this season has come to its conclusion.

Cleveland, meanwhile, is struggling along at 10-15. Both of its last two lottery picks, Dion Waiters and No. 1 overall 2013 pick Anthony Bennett, have been colossal busts. Waiters is on the trade block and Bennett’s been benched. Every Cavalier except point guard Kyrie Irving posts a below-league-average PER.

Centers Andrew Bynum and Anderson Varejao are shadows of their former selves and the tandem combines to post 16.7 points and 14 rebounds in 38 minutes a night. It’s not a bad line from one player, but the Cavs are hoping the big men bounce back to what they were before their respective injuries. If not, this Cavs team will be joining its opponent tonight in the 2014 lottery.

Cleveland Trends: OVER 5-0 in last 5 after scoring 100 plus previous game; OVER 4-0 in last 4 following an SU win; OVER 5-0 in last 5 vs teams with winning home records.

Chicago Trends: 0-5 ATS in last 5 on 1 days rest; UNDER 4-0 in last 4 at home; UNDER 4-0 in last 4 vs teams with losing road records.

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