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Chicago Bulls vs. Portland Trail Blazers

The Chicago Bulls and the Portland Trailblazers face off on Friday in Chicago in NBA action. The Bulls are -5 point favorites over the Trail Blazers with an over/under point total set at 191.5
The Chicago Bulls are tied for the third playoff sport in the Eastern Conference with the Toronto Raptors as they look for either keep pace or take the lead. Chicago is 23-13 at home this season and they have won six of their last 10 games including their last two in a row. Carlos Boozer leads Chicago in scoring averaging 13.8 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. Taj Gibson is averaging 13.4 points and 6.8 rebounds, Jimmy Butler is averaging 13 points, and Joakim Noah is averaging 12.4 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game. The Bulls are averaging 93.1 points and they are shooting 42.9 percent including 34.7 percent from beyond the three-point arc while defensively they are allowing 91.9 points and their opponents are shooting 42.9 percent. The Bulls continue to battle and for the second consecutive season win without their best player.
The Portland Trailblazers got the win on Thursday in Atlanta but it still means consecutive games on consecutive nights. The Blazers are 4-6 in their last 10 games, 20-18 on the road this season, and they are in fifth place in Western Conference playoff standings. LaMarcus Aldridge Is averaging 23.4 points and 11.1 rebounds to lead Portland. Damian Lillard is averaging 21.1 points and 5.6 assists, Wesley Mathews is averaging 16.6 points, and Nicolas Batum is averaging 13 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 5.1 assists. The Trailblazers are averaging 106.9 points and they are shooting 44.7 percent including 37.1 percent from beyond the three-point arc while defensively they are allowing 103.3 points and their opponents are shooting 45.4 percent. The Blazers haven’t been as strong of late as they were earlier this season.
Chicago is 1-4 against the spread against the Western Conference and 1-5 against the spread in their last six games. Portland is 7-3 against the spread in their last 10 Friday games and 5-2 against the spread against a team with a home winning percentage over .600.
I like the Bulls to get the win at home and barely cover this spread.

Pick
Chicago Bulls -5 Portland Trail Blazers

Brooklyn Nets vs. Chicago Bulls

The Brooklyn Nets look to head into the All-Star break with a win tonight when they play the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls are -4 point favorites over the Nets with an over/under point total set at 192.
The Nets have won four of their last five games and will be looking to head into the All-Star break with another win after blowing past the Bobcats by 105-89 last night. Paul Pierce turned back the clock with a team-high 25 points including five three pointers, while Deron Williams, Mirza Teletovic and Andray Blatche added 13 points apiece as the Nets cruised past the Bobcats to improve to 24-26 on the season, 14-5 in 2014 and 16-11 at home.
Meanwhile, the Bulls have won three of their last four games and are coming off a 100-85 win against the Hawks thanks to big performances from a couple of big men. Taj Gibson led the scoring with 24 points and added 12 rebounds and five assists, while Joakim Noah compiled a triple-double of 19 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists to pace the Bulls past the shorthanded Hawks. With the win, Chicago improves to 26-25 on the season and 14-10 at home where they’ve lost two of their last three.
In ATS trends, the Nets are 4-1 ATS in their last five road games and 13-6 ATS in their last 19 games overall, while the Bulls are 13-5 ATS in their last 18 games against a team with a losing record and 2-6 ATS in their last eight games following a win of more than 10 points.
Head to head, the Nets have lost 12 of the last 15 regular season meetings against the Bulls in Chicago.
The Nets looked so good against the Bobcats last night, especially on offense where they moved the ball around so well, but they’ve struggled against the Bulls in the past which makes this game all the more interesting. Given that this is the second game of a back to back set, I wouldn’t be surprised if coach Kidd gave someone a night off so my gut feeling is telling me to go with the Bulls at home.

Pick
Chicago Bulls -4 Brooklyn Nets

Phoenix Suns vs. Chicago Bulls

The Phoenix Suns collide with the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night from US Airways Center. The Suns are -7 point favorites over the Bulls with an over/under point total set at 190.
Head to head, the Bulls are 7-3 ATS in the last 10 meetings and 4-0 in the last 4 meetings in Phoenix while the road team is 7-2 ATS in the last 9 meetings and the underdog is 7-3 ATS in the last 10 meetings. The Suns are 9-2 ATS in their last 11 home games vs. a team with a losing road record, 5-0 ATS in their last 5 vs. Eastern Conference and 35-16-1 ATS in their last 52 games overall. The Bulls on the other hand are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 road games and 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games playing on 0 days rest, but just 17-35 ATS in their last 52 vs. Western Conference.
The Phoenix Suns are good, period! Winners of five straight and seven of eight overall, the Suns continue to pile up the wins and if they keep going like this, they could very well be a playoff team in a super competitive Western Conference, something no one thought was possible at the start of the season, including me. What’s even more impressive is that Phoenix has covered the spread in 32 of their 47 games this season, just think about that for a second. Not that anyone would, but if you had bet on them in every game they have played this season, you would be doing a lot better than most people out there.
As far as the Chicago Bulls are concerned, they have actually covered in eight of their last 11 road games, but that can be pretty misleading given their last two games in New Orleans and Sacramento last night. While their 11-point loss in the Big East wasn’t too concerning, the same can’t be said for their 29-point beat-down against the Kings last night. The Bulls managed just 70 points against one of the worst defensive teams in the league in Sac-Town, shooting a putrid 28 percent from the field as only one starter (Jimmy Butler) finished the game in double-figure scoring. This came after Chicago managed just 79 points against the Pelicans on Saturday night.
I don’t know how anyone could take Chicago here and feel good about it after what served up last night in Sacramento. Don’t get me wrong, this is a proud squad coming off an embarrassing loss, but this will also be their four straight road game and third game in four nights. Plus, they are coming up against a red hot Phoenix squad that just took down the Indiana Pacers twice in the space of two weeks, by an average of 16 points mind you.

Pick
Phoenix Suns -7 Chicago Bulls

Chicago Bulls vs. New York Knicks

Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls take on Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks from the United Center on TNT Thursday. The Bulls are -8 point favorites over the Knicks with an over/under point total set at 190.
Head to head, the Knicks are 0-5 ATS in the last 5 meetings and 2-5 ATS in the last 7 meetings in Chicago while the underdog is 4-0 ATS in the last 4 meetings.
Derrick Rose made his much anticipated return to the hardwood on Tuesday night, however, his Bulls couldn’t get past Lebron James the reigning champion Miami Heat as they kicked off the new NBA season. Rose, who was coming off an 18-month layoff, scored the first two points of the game, but he would struggle for the rest of the way as he shot 4-15 and added five turnovers in the 107-95 defeat. One player that didn’t look rusty was Carlos Boozer as led all scorers with 31 points for a Bulls team that was outscored 38-17 in the second quarter, which ultimately proved to be the difference in the game.
The New York Knicks are one of the harder teams to figure out coming into this new season. While they return the core of what was a 55 win team last season, one that made it to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2000, it remains to be seen how things will unfold in for them in 2013-14. It’s no secret that New York caught some fortunate breaks last season and while they acquired veterans such as Andrea Bargnani, Beno Udrih and Metta World Peace in the summer, they just add to what was already an aging roster. Then there is the whole Amare Stoudamire situation, which I’m not even going to get into. It’s conceivable that the Knicks could replicate what they did last season, but I just don’t see it with the improvement of teams such as the Pacers, Nets and tonight’s opponents in the Bulls, just to name a few.
Chicago has covered against New York In their last five meetings, but none of those wins were larger than tonight’s spread of eight points. Instead, I’ll be taking the over in this game. The last three times these two met last season, the average total in those game was a whopping 218 points, granted the last meeting went into overtime. I don’t think we see anything around the 218 mark again tonight, but 190 looks very achievable.

Pick
Over 190

Miami Heat vs. Chicago Bulls

The Miami Heat looks to bounce back in Game 2 against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night. The Heat are -12 point favorites over the Bulls with an over/under point total set at 187.5.
The Heat are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games following a S.U. loss, 18-7-1 ATS in their last 26 Conference Semifinals games, 6-2 ATS in their last 8 vs. NBA Central and 10-3 ATS in their last 13 games overall. The Bulls on the other hand are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600, 5-1 ATS in their last 6 Conference Semifinals games and 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games following a ATS win.
When was the last time you saw over 70% of the action against the Miami Heat, let alone in a playoff game? Well, that’s what happening in the early action for Game 2 after the Chicago Bulls performance in opening game of the series on Monday night. Make no mistake about it, the Bulls stunned the Heat in Game 1, running away with a 93-86 victory thanks to a big fourth quarter which saw them score the last 10 points of the game. Nate Robinson once again led the way by scoring a game-high 27 points and dishing out nine assists while Jimmy Butler added 21 points and a career-high 14 rebounds. Miami, who clearly looked rusty after such a long lay-off, shot just 39% from the floor and only had two players finish the game in double-digits in Lebron James and Dwayne Wade.
The Game 1 win for Chicago was probably the most impressive win of the playoffs thus far considering that Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich didn’t even play in the game. The Heat didn’t look like themselves, but all the credit has to go to the Bulls here.
I’m going to surprise a lot of people here and take the Heat in Game 2. Yes, the Bulls looked good in Game 1 and they were the team that stopped Miami’s 27-game winning streak, but here me out. Chicago was blown out in a lot of games this season and even two of their losses in their series against the Nets were by 19 points or greater. Also, don’t forget that the Heat’s last three wins over the Bulls have come at an average of 14 points per game.
I could be completely wrong here, but I just think Miami responds in a big way in Game 2. I also don’t like that fact that most of the public are with Chicago here and too be honest, taking the +12 seems just a little bit too easy.

Pick
Miami Heat -12 Chicago Bulls

Brooklyn Nets vs. Chicago Bulls

The Brooklyn Nets and Chicago Bulls square off in Game 7 from the Barclays Center on Saturday night. The Nets are -6.5 point favorites over the Bulls.
Head to head, the Bulls are 5-2 ATS in the last 7 meetings in Brooklyn. The Nets are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games vs. a team with a winning S.U. record and 7-3 ATS in their last 10 Conference Quarterfinals games, but just 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games following a ATS win. The Bulls on the other hand are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games vs. a team with a winning S.U. record, 2-5 ATS in their last 7 road games and 4-10 ATS in their last 14 games overall.
Who would have thought we would be seeing a Game 7 between these two teams with the way this series was headed. After their triple overtime loss in Game 4, which put them down three games to one, the Brooklyn Nets suddenly look in control of this series after running away victorious in Game 5 & 6.
With Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich both missing through injury, the Nets took control on Thursday as the trio of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez all scored 17 points apiece as Brooklyn withheld a late rally from the home team Bulls to come away with a 95-92 win to even the series at three games apiece.
This is a tough one to call because we still don’t know the status of Deng and Hinrich as both are still questionable due to injury. If anything, it looks like Deng will probably play and I would be surprised if Hinrich missed too because after all, this is a Game 7. While Brooklyn once again has the momentum in this series and they are playing at home, I still think we are going to see a strong performance from the Bulls tonight. Let’s also not forget that two of the last four meetings have been decided by three points or less while Game 4 went into triple overtime.
I think the Nets probably move on to the second round tonight, but the Bulls will go down swinging.

Pick
Chicago Bulls +6.5 Brooklyn Nets

Chicago Bulls vs. Brooklyn Nets

The Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets head to the Windy City for Game 3 on Thursday night. The Bulls are -3.5 point favorites over the Nets with an over/under point total set at 181.
Head to head, the Nets are 1-4 ATS in the last 5 meetings while the road team is 6-2 ATS in the last 8 meetings and the underdog is 5-2 ATS in the last 7 meetings. The Bulls are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games overall, 6-19-1 ATS in their last 26 games playing on 2 days rest and 1-4 ATS in their last 5 home games. The Nets on the other hand are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games playing on 2 days rest, 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games following a ATS loss and 5-2 ATS in their last 7 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
Talk about a turnaround from Game 1. After dominating the opening game 106-89, the Nets look like a different team in Game 2, falling 90-82 on Monday as Chicago evened the series at one game apiece. Brooklyn shot 55% from the field in Game 1 as Deron Williams and Brook Lopez led the way with 22 and 21 points, respectively. However, things changed dramatically as the Bulls picked up their defense as they held the home team to just 35% shooting, with Williams going just 1-9 from the floor for just eight points.
Here’s where it gets interesting. You would think that Chicago returning home for Games 3 & 4 would be an advantage, yet, I’m not sure that is the case. The Bulls were just 13-28 against the spread at the United Center this season, which has to be one of the worst marks of a playoff team in history. Just think about that for a second, Chicago failed to cover in 28 of their 41 home games this season, which included inexplicable losses to Charlotte and Phoenix amongst others. Now things might be different in the playoffs, but it’s you have to factor this in when making a pick for this game.
This is a difficult game to pick simply given the fact the Games 1 & 2 were so different. While playoff basketball is a different beast all together, I just can’t ignore that the Bulls were so bad at home this season when covering the spread, and saying they were just bad is being kind. I think the Nets bounce back tonight and this game goes right down to the wire.

Pick
Brooklyn Nets +3.5 Chicago Bulls

Brooklyn Nets vs. Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls look to square the ledger against the Brooklyn Nets in Game 2 on Monday night from the Barclays Center. The Nets are -4.5 point favorites over the Bulls.
Head to head, the Bulls are 4-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings in Brooklyn while the road team is 5-2 ATS in the last 7 meetings. The Nets are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 Conference Quarterfinals games and Nets are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games overall, but just 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games following a ATS win. The Bulls on the other hand are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600, but just 1-4 ATS in their last 5 road games and 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
Thanks to a big second quarter, the Brooklyn Nets made light work of the Chicago Bulls in Game 1 on Saturday night, running away with a comfortable 106-89 victory in the best of seven series. Led by 22 points from Deron Williams and 21 from Brook Lopez, the Nets made 16-20 shots in the second period to outscore the visiting Bulls 35-21, which gave them a commanding 60-35 lead at the major break and ultimately turned out to be the difference in the game. It was an impressive display from a Nets team in their first playoff appearance since 2007. As for the Bulls, Carlos Boozer led the way with 25 points and eight rebounds while Joakim Noah was clearly limited with that foot injury, playing just 14 minutes in the blowout loss.
I expect a much better performance from the Bulls in Game 2, but I’m having a hard time taking them here given what we saw on Saturday night. The Nets were really impressive and in Williams and Lopez, they have the best two players on the court. Chicago is a tough minded club and one of the better road teams in the league, but I just don’t see how they keep up with a hot Nets team here, especially considering Noah isn’t anywhere near %100 healthy.
The Bulls might come out and look like a different team tonight, but I just can’t look past Brooklyn from what we saw in Game 1.

Pick
Brooklyn Nets -4.5 Chicago Bulls

Chicago Bulls vs. Washington Wizards

The Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizard close out the regular season on Wednesday night. The Bulls are -8 point favorites over the Wizards with an over/under point total set at 186.
Head to head, the Wizards are 4-0 ATS in the last 4 meetings and 7-3 ATS in the last 10 meetings in Chicago. The Bulls are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of less than .400, 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games overall and 13-27 ATS in their last 40 home games. The Wizards on the other hand are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 road games vs. a team with a winning home record, 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games overall and 0-7 ATS in their last 7 road games.
I have been fading the Chicago Bulls at home all season long and for good reason as they are just a putrid 13-27 against the spread their this season, which is by far the worst mark of all the playoff teams, however, I’m taking them tonight for two main reasons:
1: With a win tonight, the Bulls will leapfrog the Atlanta Hawks for fifth place (because they own the tie-breaker) in the East and thus setting up a matchup with the fourth-place Brooklyn Nets, a team they managed to beat three of four times in the regular season. If they somehow lose tonight, they will be facing the third-place Indiana Pacers, a team they lost to three of four times this season.
2: While the Wizards were the hottest against the spread team for a while there, it’s pretty apart they have given up on the season. Not only have they lost five straight and six of seven, but check out the players missing for tonight’s game: Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza, Martell Webster, Nene and Bradley Beal.
Like I said, Chicago has been an automatic fade at home all season long, but they are finally healthy again and they have a good reason to make sure they win tonight’s game.

Pick
Chicago Bulls -8 Washington Wizards

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Chicago Bulls

Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers continue their charge towards the playoff as they host the Chicago Bulls on Sunday afternoon. The Lakers are -5.5 point favorites over the Bulls with an over/under point total set at 195.
Head to head, the Bulls are 4-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings while the home team is 5-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings and the underdog is 17-5 ATS in the last 22 meetings. The Lakers are 14-37 ATS in their last 51 games following a S.U. win, 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games vs. a team with a winning S.U. record and 2-6 ATS in their last 8 home games. The Bulls on the other hand are 11-4 ATS in their last 15 games following a ATS loss and 5-2 ATS in their last 7 road games, but just 7-21 ATS in their last 28 vs. Western Conference.
For all the Lakers success over the last couple of weeks, they are just 2-6 against the spread in their last eight home games. While they took care of Boston and Minnesota handily, they struggled against Portland, Atlanta and most recently Toronto, where they needed some Kobe Bryant magic to get them across the line. Chicago on the other hand looked really ordinary in recent road losses at Oklahoma City and San Antonio, but you know what, those are two of the toughest places to play in the whole league, excluding Denver. The Bulls still remain as the best against the spread road team in the Eastern Conference, covering in 18 of their 30 games away from the United Center.
Chicago has won the last three meetings between the two and has covered in four of the last five. Even though the Bulls can struggle on offense from time to time, they shouldn’t have much problem against the Lakers Swiss cheese defense. I won’t be on this game myself because we are right at the awkward number of 5.5, but if the Hawks and Raptors can get within a bucket, then so can Chicago.

Pick
Chicago Bulls +5.5 Los Angeles Lakers

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Bobby C Sports Columnist