Chicago Bulls at Denver Nuggets
Time: 8 PM CT (NBA League Pass)
Spread: DEN -1.5
Betting odds c/o 5dimes
The Chicago Bulls are 27-21 this season but just 11-12 on the road where it will travel to face the Denver Nuggets at 8 PM Central on NBA League pass. NBA oddsmakers are favoring the Nuggets by 1.5 points in the game. Denver is 10-15 at home this season and 19-31 overall.
The Nuggets have won four of its past 10 games but still sit five full games behind the No. 8 Utah Jazz. Denver fell to the Utah Jazz 85-81 last night despite 24 points from Danilo Gallinari. “Gallo” shot just 5 of 16 in the game and has been the subject of NBA trade rumors.
The Nuggets may darn near gut their team. Kenneth Faried has had his name pop up in rumors, as well, and the Nuggets are clearly going a different direction. There are some valuable chips to cash in on though, which will help Denver get some young prospects to pair with some good young talents it already has.
Among those young talents are rookie Emmanuel Mudiay, second-year guard Gary Harris and third-year swingman Will Barton. All three are already playing big roles. Though Mudiay has struggled with turnovers and his jump shot, he is an undeniable talent that can play top-notch defense and help Denver get out in transition. Mudiay is averaging 3.7 turnovers per game, but he is also averaging 1.59 blocks/steals and 5.8 assists per game.
Harris and Barton are both capable of filling it up, and Barton ranks No. 2 on the team in scoring at 15.5 points per game while also posting the third-highest PER (18.2). Barton had a double-double in the loss to Utah with 10 points and 10 boards, and he is averaging 14.8 points and 5.4 rebounds over his past five games. He is shooting 46.8 percent from the floor in Nuggets wins but just 43.9 percent from the floor in the 31 losses. Harris is good for 11.2 points per game in just 29 minutes, and he appears to have all the makings of a long-term starting 2-man.
The Nuggets have also been bringing along center Nikola Jokic. He has averaged 9.5 points and 5.9 rebounds in just under 20 minutes per game this year. Jokic, however, had 27 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and a block in 30 minutes in the Nuggets 112-93 win over the Toronto Raptors on Monday (Feb 1).
Over Jokic’s past five games, he is posting 13.8 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.4 blocks/steals per game. He remains a prospect Denver is very high on, and with its glut of perimeter talent, with the proper moves at the deadline Denver may be scooting itself up into formability by next season.
The Bulls snapped a two-game skid with a 107-102 win over the Sacramento Kings last night. E’twaun Moore scored a career high 24 points on 9 of 16 shooting, and Derrick Rose had 21 points as the Bulls shot 45 percent from the floor in the game and 11 of 21 from three point range. Moore in particular was 4 of 5 from downtown, and he started because Jimmy Butler missed the game with knee tendinitis. Nikola Mirotic also missed the game with appendicitis.
Butler is listed as probable for tonight’s game, though and Mirotic is out for this game, though he was released from the hospital following his two procedures according to Y! Sports’ Chams Chanaria.
Though the Bulls won last night without Butler, it will need its leading scorer tonight to prevail against the Nuggets. Butler has averaged 22.4 points per game this season and remains Chicago’s most dangerous offensive threat.
Prior to going down, Butler had averaged 24.5 points, four rebounds and three assists in the Bulls previous two games. Butler shoots 47 percent from the field in Bulls’ wins, but he is good for just 43.9 percent shooting in the Bulls’ 21 losses. The trend held true in the loss to the Clippers on Jan 31, as he shot just 8 of 22 from the field and the Bulls lost by 27.
For all Rose has declined, he is still a tool the Bulls get use of. He is averaging 15.5 points and 4.6 assists per game this season, though his 41 percent shooting (and just 25.5 percent from three point range) has been problematic. The Bulls also hit just 7.4 threes per game as a team, though Chicago does shoot a solid 35.6 percent from three as a team.
Chicago is averaging 101.4 points per game while surrounding 101.1, giving Chicago one of the smallest differentials (+0.3) of all Eastern Conference playoff teams. The trend is that Chicago may be in a lot more close games, but with Butler in the lineup Chicago has a good closer that can help it win those contests.