NBA Picks and Predictions: Chicago Bulls at San Antonio Spurs
Betting odds courtesy of Bovada
The Chicago Bulls are without Derrick Rose indefinitely, the team traded away its de facto No. 1 option in Luol Deng, and coach Tom Thibodeau just keeps on going. The Bulls have won six of its past 10 contests and sit at 22-22 on the season. Chicago is 9-12 on the road, however, where it will take on the San Antonio Spurs in a game NBA oddsmakers at Bovada are favoring Gregg Popovich’s Spurs by 8-points.
Chicago is able to remain competitive because it is a very strong and fundamentally sound defensive team. Moreover, Joakim Noah is a good leader who is not willing to watch his teammates mail games in as part of any collective tanking effort. The Bulls rank 2nd in the NBA in team defense, allowing just 92.9 points per game. The team isn’t replete with scoring options, so it barely scores that many itself (92.8), but controlling the pace and the boards is an effective strategy to bleed as many wins as possible from a unit lacking talent.
With Deng gone, Carlos Boozer has to assume a large role in the offense for the Bulls to be competitive. Boozer has done that, albeit inconsistently. He scored 20 points on 9-of-24 shooting, while grabbing 14 rebounds and dishing out five assists in the loss to Minnesota on Monday night, but Booz took just eight shots in the victory over the Bobcats. Another big game was met by a loss on Jan 24 when Booz scored 22 and grabbed nine rebounds against the Clippers.
If Boozer only shows up half the nights, the Bulls are going to win far less than half the games. Only D.J. Augustin can be rendered as another scorer in the Bulls lineup, and unless Taj Gibson develops a post game overnight, the Bulls aren’t going to be any real threat to the likes of Indiana and Miami.
The scary fact remains, this team is still seated No. 6 in the East and is only one full game behind Toronto for the third seed. No Rose, no Deng, and still a three seed? Bulls fans will live with that, though many may have wished to see the team have a shot at one of the studs in the top of this year’s draft lottery.
San Antonio is 33-12 and trails OKC by 2.5 games for the best record in the West. The Spurs lost to a Harden-less Rockets squad on Tuesday night. Boris Diaw scored 22 in the loss, which is hard to measure since Houston was without its best player.
Gregg Popovich is also doing his usual routine of using his bench and resting starters. Tony Parker leads the team in minutes with just 31.3 per game, which is a marked diversion from the strategy employed by Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. Tim Duncan, ever ageless, is posting 14.7 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. Expect to see Joakim Noah draw the assignment of Duncan some in this matchup to hide Carlos Boozer’s defensive weaknesses by placing him on the even less athletic Boris Diaw.
Noah is questionable for the game due to illness, and Kirk Hinrich is out with a hamstring strain. Rose, of course, is out for the season at least, with a torn meniscus.
The Spurs will be without Tiago Splitter, Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. Not having Ginobili, Leonard and Green is a huge blow to the Spurs’ perimeter shooting.
CHI Trends: OVER 4-0 in last 4 road games vs teams with home winning percentages greater than .600; 7-1 ATS in last 8 road games; 6-1 ATS in last 7 following ATS loss.
SAS Trends: UNDER 4-0 in last 4 following ATS loss; 15-3 ATS in last 18 following SU loss; 5-1 ATS in last 6 on 0 days rest.
Head-to-head: UNDER 7-0 in last 7 meetings in San Antonio; UNDER 9-2 in last 11 meetings; Bulls 2-5 ATS in last 7 meetings in San Antonio.