A big time battle between two championship favorites goes down tonight as LeBron James andthe Miami Heat travel into Chicago to face off against the Bulls. Where should you place your NBA picks in this star studded battle?

The NBA betting spreads have opened up with the Bulls as -2 ½ favorites, but sports picks flooded in just minutes later, forcing the line down to -1 ½ in favor of Chicago. NBA odds boards are also offering tonight's total at 186. The Bulls and Heat will play one more time this season a week from tonight, but this game in Chicago will be extremely important with only nine games remaining. 

Rose parade 

Derrick RoseWord out of Chicago was that Derrick Rose could have played Tuesday against the Knicks, but the Bulls held him out and rested him for this huge game tonight against the Heat. Rose practiced fully yesterday, and seems to be good to go after spraining his ankle Sunday. 

This is huge for the Bulls, because even though the Bulls beat the Heat without Rose just about a month ago in Chicago, the Bulls need a statement win to prove that they run the Eastern Conference, and I think they will get one this evening.

The Heat have not been playing well, and for the first time in forever, the Bulls have their entire roster available for this evening’s game. Another big reason I really like the Bulls in this game is Rip Hamilton. Rip dropped 18 points in the third quarter alone and 20 for the game against the Knicks on Tuesday. If Rip is back to form, the Heat need to watch out. Dwyane Wade will have to chase Rip off of screens all game, which could lead to some lapses in his offense on the other end.

Beginning of the end

I know you can’t over react a lot to the Heat’s recent struggles, but it is worth noting that even though this has been a long and taxing season, the Heat haven’t had that demanding of a schedule. Everyone has had this compressed schedule to deal with. If Miami fails to reach the NBA Finals this season, I would bet that there will be some major changes to the Heat. 

Miami is 5-5 SU and 3-7 ATS over their last ten games, and during that stretch are only 1-3 SU on the road. They are playing their first road game in over a week, but it will be a tough one in Chicago. Miami is only 13-15 ATS on the road, and are only 16-12 SU on the road. Even with all of this, the public seems to like the Heat here. I’m here to tell you that this is not the right way to lean on tonight’s game. While the Heat are struggling; especially on the road, the Bulls are dominant at home. Chicago has a 23-6 SU record at home.

LeBron James

The Sharp Pick

Miami is only 4-11 SU in their last 15 games playing on the road against Chicago, and is 6-15 ATS over their last 21 games in Chicago. Tonight’s game will surely be down to the wire, but with the return of Derrick Rose looking more like a foregone conclusion, I see the Bulls winning this game and will add a moneyline play to my NBA picks.

I think we have seen Miami’s true colors. They struggle against teams that play good defense, have stars to offset the big three, and teams that have good half court offenses. If you make the Heat defend all four quarters and not turn the ball over, you can beat them. I don’t think the Heat are one of the best three teams in the NBA, and I think Chicago at home proves it again tonight.

My Pick: Bulls ML -120

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