The Bulls and Wizards have been red hot until their momentum was dulled this week. Now the two sides will get together on Friday night in an important Eastern Conference showdown. The Wizards are a small one-point favorite on the NBA betting lines.
The Chicago Bulls Can Win Because…
There is no doubt that Pau Gasol made the right choice to come to Chicago and be a part of the Bulls, instead of remaining stuck with the Los Angeles Lakers. Gasol didn’t just score 27 points and pull down 14 boards this past Monday. He did so against the Houston Rockets, a team that gives up an average of only 97.4 points per game and has established itself as one of the better defensive teams in the NBA. Going for 27 and 14 is great on any night, but doing so against a quality opponent really catches the attention of NBA observers. Gasol is playing like the elite big man he’s been for much of his career. Spain’s upset loss in the FIBA World Cup of Basketball this summer – preventing the country from facing the United States in the championship game – has motivated Gasol and helped him to become better than he’s been the past two years. Gasol can also flourish because teammates Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah are able to do so much dirty work on defense while helping him on the glass. The Bulls have great depth and balance in terms of their rotation of low-post players. Gasol’s ability to space the floor helps Chicago’s offense a great deal. This team, which is 9-1 in its last 10 games, has a positive point differential of 4.3 points, two more than Washington’s 2.3 mark. The Bulls are also 14-4 on the road, better than their 11-6 home record. They like playing away from Chicago. It seems to focus them instead of making them more hesitant; so keep this in mind when looking over the NBA odds.
The Washington Wizards Can Win Because…
They are not going to see the same Derrick Rose who showed up on Dec. 23. On that day, a little more than two weeks ago, the Bulls went into Washington and won, 99-91. In that game, Rose hit 10 of 17 field goals for 25 points. That version of Rose probably won’t show up. Rose was a game-time decision on Wednesday versus Utah, and in his previous five games, he’s played like someone who has fresh questions about a hip injury. Rose has hit over 30 percent of his field goals only once in the past five games (not including the Utah game), and he hasn’t hit 40 percent of his shots at all in that span of playing time. If Rose can’t power the Bulls from the backcourt, Washington should be able to get the better of Chicago in this game. You would expect a team as good as Washington to not lose twice to the same opponent in a span of two and a half weeks.
The Bulls are off a startling performance, losing 97-77 at home to the Utah Jazz. It was their second surprising loss in their last five as they dropped a 96-82 loss to the Brooklyn Nets at home too. The issue is that Rose is ice cold right now, making just 28 of his last 11 shots. That’s the lowest field goal percentage for any player with that many shots since 1983-84. Now he has to go up against, who have the league’s fourth-best defense.
If Rose isn’t at his best, the Bulls won’t win. It’s hard to expect that from him right now, so take the Wizards with your NBA picks.
NBA Pick: Washington -1 at The Greek