Chicago Bulls at Milwaukee Bucks
Saturday, 2/26/11, 8:30 PM EDT
Opening Point Spread: Chicago -3.5
Current Betting Line: Chicago -3.5
Opening Total: 181
Current Total: 182
Chicago opens a five-game trip Saturday night and will look to avoid dropping a third consecutive game at the Bradley Center against the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bulls are 11-0 against Central Division opponents this year and have already handed the Bucks two losses while facing off at the United Center, including a 92-83 victory on January 24. The team is coming off an exciting 93-89 home win over the Miami Heat last time out, as MVP candidate Derrick Rose contributed 26 points and 6 assists, while Luol Deng poured in 18 of his 20 points in the second half. “I felt like I needed to be more involved,” Deng commented. “One way I did that was to bring more energy.” Chicago is a solid 33-22 ATS on the season and currently a road favorite on the NBA lines page.
The Bulls are a .500 squad on the road this season with a 13-13 overall record, including a losing 5-7 mark against Eastern Conference opponents. The last time the team posted a winning road record in a single season was 1997-98, when they went 25-16. Chicago is 6-4 against Milwaukee in its last 10 meetings and hold a 7-5 record in the series at the Bradley Center since the 2004-05 campaign. If the club plans to take over the No. 1 seed in the East, its defense will need to continue playing at a high level, holding 12 of its last 16 foes to 90 points or less.
Milwaukee needs to make a run in order to move up from its current 10th place standing in the Eastern Conference and will be playing the next four games at home. The Bucks were unable to control the Knicks on the offensive end last time out, dropping a 114-106 decision at Madison Square Garden. “I would say there was pressure with the expectations,” said center Andrew Bogut. “People were talking about us winning the division and being a top three or four team in the East.” Bogut will need to improve upon his recent performance in order for the team to make up ground, as he’s averaged 6.8 points over the last five games. Milwaukee is 0-2 ATS as a home underdog of 3.5 to 6 points this season.
The Bucks have taken great care of the basketball over the last five games, forcing 26 more turnovers than their opponents in that span. Milwaukee will need to move the basketball around in order to pull off a win in tonight’s contest due to Chicago holding a +11.0 advantage in assists over the first two meetings. One key player to watch in tonight’s game is John Salmons, who was traded to the club from Chicago, as he’s scoring 22 points a night over the past four games.
Bettors will be interested in backing the Bulls due to their 19-7 ATS record with a day of rest, while the Bucks are 1-6-1 ATS versus the Center Division.