Best Value NBA Picks: Bulls vs. Pacers

David Lawrence

Monday, December 29, 2014 2:03 PM GMT

As the Chicago Bulls get ready for Monday night’s game in Indianapolis against the Pacers, they’re a 5.5-point road favorite on the NBA betting lines. Find out where the best betting value is.

The Chicago Bulls are rounding into form and are becoming the kind of team many expected them to be before the season started. There’s an obvious key which is at work in the Bulls’ rise in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.

 

The Chicago Bulls Can Win Because…
They're the hottest team in the Eastern Conference at the moment, at least as an extension of the past 10 games played by every team in the conference. The Toronto Raptors, Atlanta Hawks, and Washington Wizards are all 8-2 in their last 10, but the Bulls are 9-1 following a Saturday win over New Orleans. The Bulls have been beating very good teams, too, on their run. They’ve outlasted Memphis on the road and roared past Portland at home. They beat Toronto at home in a high-scoring game and beat Washington on the road in a low-scoring game. The Bulls’ defense is at the level coach Tom Thibodeau wants. Lots of reasons are at work in the Bulls’ march up the standings, and their status as favorites in NBA odds tonight.

Then there’s the biggest reason Chicago is improving. Derrick Rose is healthy and playing well. He has scored at least 19 points in each of his last four games, and he’s shot over 50 percent from the field, at 37 of 66. He’s giving Chicago efficient yet athletic play, and he’s not playing too many minutes, either, getting an average of roughly 30 minutes in those four games. Thibodeau isn’t running him into the ground. Rose’s points-per-48-minutes total in recent weeks has obviously been much better than his 18-point-per-game average. He’s doing what his team is expecting of him, and with the Bulls having had Sunday off, Rose should be ready to roll once again.

It should also be said that the Pacers are 4-6 in their last 10 games and have one of the four worst offenses in the Eastern Conference. Indiana is one of four teams averaging under 95 points per game. The Pacers have a negative per-game point differential (minus-1.8).

 

The Indiana Pacers Can Win Because…
They are still able to defend at a high level and can therefore make life difficult for the Bulls. Chicago does average 103.5 points per game and has been scoring at a high rate of late with Rose thriving as he’s been. However, the Pacers rely on their defense to get things done and have shown that they can contain opponents with great consistency. Indiana’s defense allows 96.5 points per game, which is the best average in the entire Eastern Conference, slightly better than the Washington Wizards (96.6). The Pacers might have lost a lot on offense this season with Lance Stephenson and Paul George not being on the active roster, but they can always play defense, and this could gum up Chicago’s offense at every turn. The Bulls are not beyond playing a clunker, and some would say they’re due for such a bad game.

 

Outlook
The Bulls have things going their way right now, and the key is that their defense is playing well, not just their offense. Chicago can shut down Indiana even if it doesn’t score a ton. Take the Bulls with your NBA picks.

Free NBA Pick: Bulls -5.5 at BookMaker Sportsbook