Bet Bulls –1 over Pacers for NBA Picks

Jason Lake

Monday, March 24, 2014 11:23 AM GMT

Monday, Mar. 24, 2014 11:23 AM GMT

Another day, another ATS loss for the Indiana Pacers. The NBA betting lines will catch up at some point. Will it be on Monday night when the Chicago Bulls welcome the Pacers to the United Center?

Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to March 23 inclusive:

87-73-2 ATS

23-21-1 Totals

Some NBA picks are easier than others. The Indiana Pacers, in case you haven’t heard, are completely on the fritz as they stumble toward the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. They’ve honked 12 of their last 14 games ATS, but since the Miami Heat are also half-assing it in the East, the Pacers aren’t under all that much pressure to figure things out. Just keep feeding them cupcakes.

The Chicago Bulls are no cupcakes. But they are a bit frustrating to handicap, and they’re one of the very few teams to lose ATS to Indiana, dropping a 91-79 decision to the Pacers (–6.5 at home) on Friday. Consarn’ it. Chicago will take another crack at it on Monday night (8:00 p.m. ET) at home, with the early NBA lines giving Indiana 1.5 points on a low, low total of 178.

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On the Rebound
So what’s different in Monday’s matchup besides the location? Well, each team has played once since their last meeting. Indiana (51-19 SU, 35-34-1 ATS) blew it again, falling 82-71 as a 3-point road dog to the punishing Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday. The Pacers lost the rebounding battle 47-35 and shot just 36.5 percent from the floor en route to their lowest scoring output of the season. “We were a little bit too indecisive and hesitant with the basketball,” head coach Frank Vogel told reporters after the loss. Same old, same old.

Meanwhile, the Bulls (39-31 SU, 34-36 ATS) were on the winning end of a 91-81 final against the Philadelphia 76ers, but once again, it was Philly getting way too many points as a 16-point road dog. But it wasn’t just that: The Sixers also had the better night in two of the critical Four Factors, beating Chicago in turnover rate (9.4 percent to 15.2 percent) and offensive rebound rate (36.5 percent to 27.5 percent). Philadelphia ended up taking 17 more shots than Chicago, enough to beat the basketball lines despite shooting just 1-for-20 from downtown.

 

March Break
That’s five straight ATS losses for the Bulls, by the way. What’s going on here? Have they finally run out of gas after using such a tight seven-man rotation and playing their hearts out on defense? Kinda seems that way. Thanks to the handy-dandy revamped stats available at NBA.com, we can see how Chicago has gotten progressively worse over the past couple of months:

January: 101.9 OffRtg, 97.2 DefRtg (plus-4.8)

February: 100.2 OffRtg, 96.7 DefRtg (plus-3.5)

March: 101.7 OffRtg, 98.5 DefRtg (plus-3.2)

Don’t forget, this is a team that wilfully traded Luol Deng (17.1 PER in Chicago) to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Jan. 6 for salary cap relief. It seemed at the time that the Bulls were waving the white flag and going into Tank Mode, but head coach Tom Thibodeau doesn’t play that way. Chicago circled the wagons and finished January going 9-4 SU and 8-5 ATS, then put the clamps down even further on defense to go 9-4 SU and ATS in February. Since then? 7-5 SU and 4-8 ATS. Phooey.

Even though the Bulls are slipping somewhat on defense, this is still one of the best teams in the league at suffocating opponents. The UNDER is 4-1 in their last five games, and 6-1 in Indiana’s last seven. But sweet baby corn, that’s a low total. I’ve been getting burned with my last few attempts at avoiding the NBA spreads in marginal situations, so I’m just going to grit my teeth and fade the Pacers one more time. May the sphere be with you.

NBA Pick: Take the Bulls –1 (–112) at SBOBET

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