Houston Rockets at Chicago Bulls
United Center – Chicago, Illinois
Monday, April 2, 2o12, 8:00 pm Eastern, TV: NBA TV
Opening Line: Chicago -8 1/2
Current Line: Chicago -8
Opening Total: 187
Current Total: 186 1/2
Opening Money Line: Bulls -410 / Rockets +340
Current Money Line: Bulls -375 / Rockets +315
The 42-12 Chicago Bulls, coached by Tom Thibodeau, have the best record in basketball but they were destroyed by the team with the second best record yesterday. The Bulls lost at Oklahoma City 92-78, but Chicago was playing without Derrick Rose and Richard Hamilton. Rose is out tonight as well with a groin injury, and Hamilton is questionable with a shoulder injury. Rose has missed 10 straight games, and Hamilton has missed 14 straight. At one point in the fourth quarter yesterday, the Bulls were down by 30 points but rallied to make the final closer than it was.
Next up for the Bulls is a home game against the 28-25 Houston Rockets. The Rockets, coached by Kevin McHale, are currently the #8 seed in the Western Conference playoffs, a game ahead of Utah for the last spot. Houston lost at home to Indiana 104-102 in overtime last night. Houston has injury problems of their own as guards Kyle Lowry (illness) and Kevin Martin (shoulder) are both out indefinitely.
Chicago is 9-3 in their last 12 games, but all three losses were to Western Conference opponents by double digits. The Bulls will try to snap that Western Conference losing streak against a team they have beaten 5 straight times, including two 3 point victories last season. This is the only meeting this season between the Bulls and Rockets with the lockout shortened schedule.
Houston is outscoring opponents 98.1-97.5 this season. The Rockets are 9th in points scored in the league. Houston is shooting 45.3% from the field and 35.9% from 3 point range. The Rockets make 78.5% of their free throws. Houston averages 42.2 rebounds a game with a rebounding margin of +1.1. The Rockets average 21 assists, 14.8 turnovers, 7.3 steals and 4.9 blocks a game. Houston opponents are shooting 45.4% from the field and 31.8% from 3 point range. The Rockets force 14.5 turnovers a game.
Martin is the leading scorer for the Rockets averaging 17.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 2.8 assists a game. He has missed 11 games in a row. He is day-to day with the shoulder injury, but he is not expected to play tonight. Lowry averages 15.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, 7.2 assists, and 1.8 steals a game. He leads the Rockets in assists and steals. He hasn’t played since March 8 with a bacterial infection, and hopes to play before the end of the season. Forward Luis Scola averages 15.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2 assists a game. Courtney Lee averages 10.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.1 steals a game. Point guard Goran Dragic has played well in Lowry’s absence averaging 10 points, 2.4 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.2 steals a game. Chandler Parsons, Chase Budinger, Samuel Dalembert, and Marcus Camby also get significant minutes. Dalembert leads the Rockets in blocks with 1.8 a game, and Camby leads the Rockets in rebounds with 8.8 a game.
Chicago is outscoring opponents 96.9-88.6 this season. The Bulls are 2nd in points allowed in the NBA. Chicago is shooting 45.5% from the field and 38% from 3 point range. The Bulls are in the top ten in the league in both categories. The Bulls make 72.6% of their free throws. Chicago leads the league in rebounding averaging 46.1 a game with a rebounding margin of +6.1. The Bulls average 23 assists, 13.9 turnovers, 7.1 steals, and 5.8 blocks a game. Chicago opponents are shooting 42.7% from the field and 33.3% from 3 point range. The Bulls are in the top 6 in the league in all defensive categories. Chicago forces 13.4 turnovers a game.
Derrick Rose is the reigning league MVP, but has battled injury all season. Rose averages 22.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 8 assists a game. He leads the Bulls in scoring and assists. Forward Carlos Boozer averages 15.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1 steal a game. Forward Luol Deng averages 15.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal a game. Hamilton averages 11.3 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 3.1 assists. C.J. Watson averages 10.3 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 3.8 assists a game. Joakim Noah averages 9.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.3 blocks a game. Noah leads the Bulls in rebounds and blocks. Ronnie Brewer leads the Bulls in steals with 1.1 a game.
Chicago is 32-22 ATS and the total is 27-26-1 this season. Houston is 27-26 this season, and the total is 24-29 this season. Eleven of the last fourteen games have gone over in this series, including 5 of the last 7 in Chicago. Houston is 6-2 ATS in the last 8 games in Chicago. The Rockets are 4-0 ATS after failing to cover, 5-1 in Monday games, 4-1 after a straight up loss, and after allowing 100 points or more, 2-5 in road games against teams with winning home records, 2-7 as a road underdog, 2-9 in road games, 1-5 on 0 days rest, and 1-6 against Eastern conference teams. The Bulls are 5-1 after a straight up loss of 10 points or more, 6-2 in Monday games, 9-3 against teams with winning records, 21-8-1 against teams from the Southwest division, 35-15-1 after a straight up loss, 43-21 after failing to cover, 2-5 as a favorite of 5-10.5 points, including 1-4 at home, and 2-5 against Western Conference teams.
Though both teams have injury woes in the backcourt, Chicago is the stronger team here by far. The Bulls are winning because of their rebounding and stifling defense. Houston relies on their offense, and I think Chicago can shut it down. I like the Bulls to win and cover at home.