NBA Expert Picks: Indiana Pacers at Chicago Bulls

Indiana Pacers AT Chicago Bulls
December 13th, 2010 at 8:05 EST
Opening Point Spread:  Chicago -7.5
Current Point Spread:  Chicago -9
Opening Total:  190
Current Total:  188
Opening Moneyline:  Chicago -350 / Indiana +290
Current Moneyline:  Chicago -500 / Indiana +350

Derrick Rose is averaging 25 a game and is in MVP discussions

Tonight’s game brings together two teams that will likely both be in the Eastern Conference Playoffs (the Bulls more likely than the Pacers of course).  Chicago has really got their stuff together since Boozer returned from his hand injury and they have won 5 consecutive games with victories over Minnesota, L.A. Lakers, Cleveland, Oklahoma City, and Houston.  Boozer has yet to hit full stride, although he did have 25 and 29 point games against Houston and Oklahoma City, respectively.  He is still working his way into shape and is only playing 27 minutes a game so far.

But the real story for the Bulls has been Derrick Rose.  A legitimate MVP candidate, Rose made his first all star team last season, and this season is a likely pick for the All-NBA first team.   Averaging 25.1 points per game and 8.1 assists per game, Rose has scored 20+ in 16 of 21 games, including five games with 30 or more.

Indiana has been quite average so far this year, and consequently sport a .500 record.  On a positive note for the Pacers, though, they have a +2.2 point differential as they score 99.6 points per game and give up but 97.4.  This is comparitive to the Bulls point differential of 2.6, so the teams may be more closely matched than their records indicate.

The total has gone UNDER in 14 of Indiana’s past 20 games, and Indiana is 2-3-1 ATS in their last six games.  The total has also gone UNDER in 6 of Indiana’s last 9 road games, and they are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 road games against the Bulls.  The total has gone UNDER in 14 of Chicago’s past 17 games, and the Bulls have won their past 5 at the United Center.  The total has also gone UNDER in 7 of Chicago’s last 8 games at home.  The Bulls have won 8 of the last 9 matchups against the Pacers.

Some Key matchups for tonight’s game:

Carlos Boozer vs Tyler Hansbrough & Josh McRoberts

McRoberts has been a pleasant surprise for the Pacers this year.  After scarcely making an impact his first three seasons in the league, he has emerged to play 23 minutes a game and is putting up repectable numbers – 6.9 points per game, 6.1 rebounds per game, 1.2 blocks, 2.5 assists, and shoots 41.5% from behind the arc on 1.9 three point attempts per game.  Hansbrough is playing less minutes, but also posting decent numbers considering the lack of playing time.  In 13 minutes per night, Hansbrough is averaging 5.7 points per game and 3.4 boards.  The two will team up against perennial all star Carlos Boozer, who after suffering a hand injury in a freak accident at his home, has played his first 7 games of the season and is just starting to come to form.  His career averages of 17.2 points per game and 10.1 rebounds per game show what he is capable of and as the year goes on, his scoring average should approach 20 per game.  While McRoberts is a decent defender, he will have his hands full with the outside shooting and inside banging of Boozer tonight.

Joakim Noah vs Roy Hibbert

At this juncture in the season, Hibbert is far and away the leading candiate for the Most Improved Player award, averaging 14.8 points per game, 8.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.9 blocks per contest.  Tonight’s matchup against Noah promises to be a good one.  Noah is tied for second in the league with Dwight Howard for rebounds per game with 12.0 per game.  He is also blocking 1.5 shots per night and his stellar defense should be good enough to frusterate the more offensively gifted Hibbert.  Chicago is the second best rebounding team in the league and for the Pacers to compete, Hibbert is going to have to find a way to get a body on Noah and keep him from the offensive glass, as Noah’s 4.1 offensive rebounds rank second, behind only Kevin Love.

Ultimately, the Pacers are going to have to overcome recent history to win tonight’s game.  They have struggled in the United Center and the Bulls have been very good of late.  NBA betting lines have taken this into account and the wide NBA betting line is indicative of the troubles the Pacers have had against the Bulls.

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