Bulls have lost Derrick Rose for several weeks and are just beginning to learn to play without him. They’ll receive a significant test on the NBA betting lines from the Clippers this afternoon.
The Los Angeles Clippers Can Win Because…
Their opponent is just not going to be anywhere close to full strength. The Bulls generally need Derrick Rose in order to have a good chance (not just an outside chance) of beating a quality team. Rose had been averaging 18.4 points and five assists per game when he tore a meniscus in his knee and underwent surgery that will sideline him for at least five to six weeks if not more. It is true that Rose’s condition after multiple knee injuries this season was such that he wasn’t able to play consistently well. Out of every three or four games, he might have played well in two or three of them, but he would falter in the next one. He was 1 of 13 shooting in the most recent game he played before his injury (against Milwaukee on Feb. 23). However, while he wasn’t always consistent, he was still the biggest reason the Bulls were a contender in the Eastern Conference. This was made apparent when, on Feb. 12, right before the All-Star break, Rose hit 12 of 24 shots and all six free throws for 30 points. He handed out seven assists and committed only two turnovers. There’s no one else on Chicago’s roster who can do that. Jimmy Butler is a strong rebounder, but not an assist passer. The Bulls are likely to find it hard to generate enough offense in this game. Clippers are NBA odds fovorite this afternoon.
What should also concern the Bulls is that the Clippers are finding ways to win without Blake Griffin. Los Angeles has historically struggled with the Memphis Grizzlies, a team that’s second in the Western Conference right now, but the Clippers dominated the Griz in Memphis on Friday, winning by 18 points, 97-79. Spencer Hawes is filling in for Griffin, and he provided strong interior defense which helped contain Memphis’ offense. The Clippers committed only 19 fouls in the game and allowed only 15 foul shots. They allowed Memphis to make only three 3-point shots. If the Clippers can continue to defend this well, Chicago is not going to score much more than 79 points, if any at all.
The Chicago Bulls Can Win Because…
They are a resourceful team that is used to playing without Rose. Remember that Rose was injured for the past two seasons, and the Bulls learned to cope without him. Coach Tom Thibodeau knows how to move various parts around and get them to do what they have to. During the playoffs, the Bulls have been exposed in recent years, but in the regular season, they manage to win a lot of games even without Rose.
The Bulls’ coping skills were on display on Friday in a win over Minnesota, a better Minnesota team due to the addition of Kevin Garnett. The Bulls played without Rose and Pau Gasol. They also got just nine minutes from a physically limited Taj Gibson, who is going to play the rest of the season with longstanding pain in his ankle and has been dealing with an illness this past week. Yet, they won. How? Jimmy Butler hit 11 of 16 shots for 28 points while grabbing 12 rebounds. Mike Dunleavy hit five 3-pointers for 21 points. A lot of people contributed to help Butler and Dunleavy. It was a classic Chicago Bull win. This team can deal with the Clippers, and L.A.’s lack of a healthy Blake Griffin should certainly even the scales in this game.
The Bulls are resourceful but the Clippers have been refreshed by the All-Star break and have found a winning formula without Blake Griffin. Moreover, Chris Paul should have a field day with Derrick Rose not on the court. That will make the difference for the Clippers, so take them with your NBA picks.
NBA Pick: Clippers at The Greek