Washington Wizards at Chicago Bulls (-8, 207 o/u)
The Chicago Bulls (22-13, 16-5 Home) saw their six-game winning streak come to an end on the weekend. Derrick Rose and company will look to start a new streak when they host the Washington Wizards (16-19, 8-8 Away), tonight at the United Center (8:00 PM Eastern).
Chicago dropped their Saturday meeting with the Atlanta Hawks, 120-105. The loss continued a trend for the team, which has gone from one of the best defensive units in the league last season to surrendering over 100 points per game, on average, this year. The Bulls had particular problems defending the Hawks’ pair of Al Horford (33 points and ten rebounds) and Paul Millsap (18 points).
“Defensively, again I think we have slipped a little bit,” first-year head coach Fred Hoiberg explained to the Associated Press. “We’ve got to get those principles back that made us a really good defensive team.”
The Bulls might have some additional help on defense tonight with the return of center Joakim Noah. The former Defensive Player of the Year has missed nine straight games with a shoulder injury, but is listed as probable for tonight’s game.
“I’m confident in my shoulder being all right and I’m excited to get back onto the court,” said Noah to the Associated Press.
Even though they haven’t been playing well at the defensive end, Chicago has remained one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, sitting second only to the Cavs (in both the Eastern Conference, as a whole, and the Central Division). Small forward Jimmy Butler (22.1 PPG) has emerged as an elite scorer, taking some pressure off of Rose (14.6 PPG, 5.1 APG) at the offensive end.
Washington came into the season with high expectations after a nice playoff run last season. But the team struggled out of the gate and still hasn’t been able to find its rhythm. The Wizards are currently last in a resurgent Southwest Division, 5.5 games back of the first-place Hawks.
John Wall poured in 24 points and added ten assists on Saturday as the squad snapped a three-game skid against Orlando (105-99). But Washington is just 2-5 in its last seven and both wins came against the middling Magic.
Wall wasn’t perfect on the night, but any means, committing seven costly turnovers.
“I think I’m making the right reads but sometimes [teammates] drop ’em,” Wall said to the AP. “Some of them are my fault, but give credit to the defense.”
Wall is dealing with a knee injury but is expected to play tonight. That’s good news for a Wizards team already bitten by the injury bug. Bradley Beal, DeJuan Blair, Marcin Gortat, Kris Humphries, and Nene are all either out or questionable for tonight’s tilt.
In the trends, the Bulls are 4-1 ATS in their last five games as a favorite and 4-1 ATS in their last five home games. The Wizards are just 3-7 ATS in their last ten games following a straight up win.
Given all the injuries on the Washington sideline, the Bulls should certainly get the win. But laying eight isn’t great value. Instead, consider the over; six of the last seven times the Bulls and Wizards have hooked up in Chicago, the game has gone over the total.
Pick: OVER 207.
(Photo credit: Keith Allison from Owings Mills, USA (Derrick Rose) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)
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