Showdown at Newark: Chicago Bulls at New Jersey Nets

Chicago Bulls AT New Jersey Nets
Jan 5, 2011 at 7:05 PM EST
Opening Line:  Chicago -4
Current Line:  Chicago -5.5
Opening Total: 185
Current Total: 185
Opening Moneyline: Chicago -210 / New Jersey +180
Current Moneyline:  Chicago -210 / New Jersey +175

Rose got the better of Harris last game, outscoring him 19 to 10

It’s a bit perplexing to see to see the line set so close between teams going in opposite directions.  The Bulls have reeled off 5 consecutive victories, while New Jersey has dropped their last 5, but working in their favor is the fact that the Bulls are in the second night of a back to back game and they are also playing in Newark.  Moreover, the Bulls aren’t exactly dominant on the road at 8-7, so NBA oddsmakers have taken all that into account and set the opening line at -4 in Chicago’s favor.

Chicago has won 14 of their last 16 and have appeared near unstoppable since free agent signee Carlos Boozer has returned.  They last handed the Raptors an embarassing 20 point defeat and the schedule has been kind to the Bulls of late, as they have faced some of the weakest teams in the league during their winning streak (Toronto, Cleveland, New Jersey, Milwaukee, and Detroit — 4 of the 5 teams there are not even close to .500 and Milwaukee is still 4 games below themselves).

Boozer commented, “In games like this, you see just how talented (the reserves are). You see how talented Taj is, you see how talented O is. The more time you get, the better you become.”

The fact of the matter is, in a game like this, you expect to see more of the reserves since it is the second night of a back to back, and Chicago’s depth should serve them well.

Some betting trends:

The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Chicago’s past 5 on the road and they have won 4 of those 5 games.  They are only 2-4 ATS in their last 6 road games, though, and also the total has gone OVER in 8 of their last 12 against New Jersey.  They have won 6 of the last 9 meetings between the teams and are 2-4 ATS in their last 6 against New Jersey.  They have won only 1 of the last 7 meetings in New Jersey (or Newark actually) and thte total has gone OVER in 5 of the last 6 on the road against the Nets.  Perhaps most amazingly, Chicago has actually only won 1 of the last 16 road games against the Nets.

New Jersey is 1-4 over their last 5 games and the total has gone OVER in 4of their last 6 games.  They are 2-5 in their last 7 home games and the total has gone UNDER in 5 of their last 6 at home.  The total has, however, went OVER in 8 of their last 12 against the Bulls.

Key Matchups:

Carlos Boozer vs. Kris Humphries & Derrick Favors

Humphries is actually a very good defender and rebounder.   While he won’t give Boozer many problems on the offensive end of the floor, he is atheletic enough and a smart enough defender to keep Boozer in check, perhaps…Boozer did go for 20 & 15 last game against the Nets, however, so maybe just keeping Boozer under control will serve the Nets well enough.  Boozer has scored 20 or more in 6 of his last 7 games before only playing 24 minutes in the blowout last night, allowing him only 12 points to break the streak of 20 or more games.  Favors will see spot minutes and will probably make a good number of “rookie mistakes” as he is still acclimating to the NBA game, but it’s doubtful that he faces Boozer for most of his minutes so those mistakes should be minimalized against the much less gifted offensively Taj Gibson.

Derrick Rose vs. Devin Harris

Last game, as you might expect, Rose got the better of Harris.  He held Harris to 5 of 13 shooting from the floor and a mere 10 points (6.9 below his season average).  Rose was also below his season average, but still had 19 points and 9 assists, aiding Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer to a combined 39 points.  Devin Harris has the speed and height to keep up with Rose, but Rose can overpower him with his superior strength and won’t have much of a problem converting 3 point plays given his ability to take a hit and finish.

As I said already, the line is precariously close for two teams that are on opposite ends fo the spectrum, but given Chicago’s struggles on the road against the Nets and the fact that this is the second night of a back to back for them, the line may be about correct.

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