Bet Bulls +2.5 over Thunder for NBA Picks

Jason Lake

Monday, March 17, 2014 11:39 AM GMT

Russell Westbrook was given the day off Sunday, and the Oklahoma City Thunder paid the price. Will they get back on track and beat the NBA odds versus the Chicago Bulls on Monday?

Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to March 15 inclusive:

83-65-2 ATS

21-20 Totals

Well, frick. The Oklahoma City Thunder did say they would consider resting Russell Westbrook rather than make him work both ends of back-to-back games for the rest of the season. But I didn’t expect them to sit Westbrook during the front end of such a series. He was given a day of rest on Sunday with the Dallas Mavericks (+7.5) in town, and the Mavs took full advantage, winning every quarter of a 109-86 final. Sad trombone.

At least that result should cut down on some of the chatter about Westbrook being bad for the Thunder (48-18 SU, 36-29-1 ATS). But there are still flaws on this team, and they’re about to head north to take on the Chicago Bulls (37-29 SU, 34-32 ATS), who are very good at exposing said flaws. The Thunder opened as 2.5-point road faves on Monday’s overnight NBA odds in Vegas; online sportsbooks have yet to weigh in as we go to press.

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Spring Surprise

I highly recommend waiting until closer to tip-off before placing your basketball bets, just in case something like a maintenance day comes up. This isn’t the NFL, where the early bird gets the worm and all that.

I also don’t want to harp on the Thunder too much, since we’ve been covering them pretty closely – you already know that defensive specialists Thabo Sefolosha (11.0 PER) and Kendrick Perkins (6.1 PER) are out of the lineup with injuries. Neither player is expected to return until closer to the playoffs. Oklahoma City is 5-5 SU and 4-5-1 ATS since Perkins went down, with the OVER at 6-4. This team is a surprise bag even when Westbrook does play.

The Zigzag is a Lie

So let’s move on and talk about Los Bulls. They’ve been inconsistent all year long, racked by injury and swapping out players left and right earlier in the season. But it was easy enough to ride them while they were hot, and fade them when they were not. Up until now, that is. Chicago has fallen into one of those infuriating zigzag patterns, going 5-3 SU and 4-4 ATS over the past eight games. If you believe in the zigzag, the Bulls are due for an ATS win on Monday (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Sure, and this coin I’m about to flip is due to come up heads. The zigzag method doesn’t really hold water until you get to the playoffs, and the same two teams are facing each other from one game to the next, executing strategies and counter-strategies based on the previous game’s events. And besides, Chicago barely missed beating the NBA lines in Saturday’s 94-87 victory over the Sacramento Kings (+8 away). A couple of missed free throws in the last 30 seconds made the difference.

I am going to pick the Bulls in this matchup, though. When these two teams met in December, Chicago (+13.5 away) got paid in a 107-95 loss, despite missing both Luol Deng (now in Cleveland) and starting point guard Kirk Hinrich (10.5 PER). Oklahoma City had its full complement of players. The kick is on the other foot now. Chicago has circled the wagons with its tight seven-man rotation, winning 13 of its past 17 games to move into fourth place in the Eastern Conference. The Thunder, meanwhile, have slipped to second place in the West, and they seem more interested in protecting Westbrook rather than pound the NBA odds. As they should be.

NBA Pick: Take the Bulls +2.5