NBA on ESPN Picks, Odds: Chicago Bulls at Golden State Warriors

Chicago at Golden State
Time: 9:30 PM CT (ESPN)
Spread: GSW -16.5
Total: 219.5

Betting odds c/o 5dimes

The Golden State Warriors are 22-3 at Oracle Arena where it will host the 26-26 Chicago Bulls in the second half of an ESPN double-header tonight at 9:30 (Central Time) PM. The Warriors are 16.5 point favorites over Chicago, and the Bulls are 5-5 SU over its past 10 games. Golden State is coming off a 109-106 loss to the Sacramento Kings.

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In Golden State’s loss to DeMarcus Cousins and the Kings, the Warriors got 61 points from Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, but its starting front court produced just 29 points as Kevin Durant was an ice cold 2 of 10 from the floor and JaVale McGee drew the start to play just 13 minutes at center. The Warriors bench was similarly poor, generating just 16 total points and shooting a collective 6 of 14 from the field. Cousins had a field day with a near-triple-double, as he finished with 32 points, nine assists and 12 rebounds.

The Kings starters all finished negative in court differentials, but Sacto’s bench scored 45 points, led by Willie Cauley-Stein’s 14 points on 7 of 12 shooting. Cauley-Stein has become increasingly effective for the 20-31 Kings, which are still very much in the chase for a wide-open No. 8 spot in the Western Conference.

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Sacramento currently trails No. 8 Denver by just 3.5 games, and though Sacramento’s progress has been slow, the team is a respectable 12-17 against fellow Western Conference teams, and DeMarcus Cousins is an unstoppable force of sorts that gives the Kings a chance to beat any given opponent, as it proved with the win over Golden State. But can the Bulls do anything similar to Golden State as large underdogs in its own right?

Chicago is not a pretty place in terms of team morale. The Bulls seem to be a team of 10 and 2, so to speak. Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade are not communicating with their (lesser!) teammates, and the pair is utterly alienated from a once starting point guard in Rajon Rondo.

Rondo is all but gone, but cannot the same be applied to Butler? The Bulls have had plenty of interest in swingman, and with the season hardly going as Chicago intended, it may be time for the Bulls to gather some assets and begin a true rebuild. With its lack of shooting and scoring issues, the Bulls seem they are peaking at a .500-type record, which is hardly the ultimate aim of any franchise.

Saddled with a big payroll and plenty of veterans, the time for Chicago to scrap it and aim to obtain some draft picks and prospects is now. Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott have their nights, but the Bulls could benefit from an influx of youth. Perhaps even adding some shooters could make Michael Carter-Williams, and Rondo, less of liabilities offensively, but that is the tip of the iceberg for a team that cannot even manage to get along with one another.

All of that discord strikes so heavily with Golden State showing such great chemistry. Klay Thompson was away from the team Monday and Tuesday as his grandfather passed away, but he is probable to play in tonight’s game and it is also his 27th birthday. Could it be that the Warriors ease his personal pain by feeding him the rock for a huge game?

Even with the addition of Durant this season, Thompson has overcome his early-season struggles and is now averaging 21.4 points per game in 34 minutes a night. The sharpshooter at times feels like the forgotten Warrior, but it is hard not to see how integral his strong two-way play is to the team. He is also a huge difference-maker in the team’s overall success, illustrated by the fact that in the Warriors’ eight losses he averages just 16 points per game on 36 percent shooting, while in wins he is good for 22.3 points on 48.4 percent marksmanship.

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