The Washington Wizards have won and covered two of their three meetings with the Chicago Bulls this season so can they make it three out of four on Tuesday night at the United Center? Let’s analyze and come up with a pick.
Washington Wizards at Chicago Bulls, Tuesday (NBA League Pass, 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT): Two teams who may end up seeing each other in the First Round of the NBA Playoffs meet at the United Center in Chicago on Tuesday night when the Chicago Bulls (37-23, 101.3 PF-95.8 PA) welcome the Washington Wizards (34-26, 98.7 PF-98.1 PA) to the Windy City in this Eastern Conference date. NBA odds makers have made the visiting Wizards 1½-point favorites with the Total set at 186½ (Pinnacle). The Money Line (Winner) odds sees The NBA Team Formerly Known As The Bullets priced as slight -113 favorites with injured Chicago at +102 on the takeback (Pinnacle). The line for this game took some time to be released because of the Bulls’ injuries to Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson and then Monday’s announcement that Jimmy Butler would be out 3-6 weeks with a hyperextended elbow.
Previous Meetings This Season
These two teams have me three times this season, with the Wizards winning and covering 2 of these 3 meetings. In their first meeting this season on Dec. 23 at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC, the Bulls defeated the Wizards, 99-91 as 2½-point underdogs (Under 197½); Washington then won and covered in the second meeting, 102-86 (Under 195½), again in the DC on Jan.9; and, here in Chicago in the last meeting on Jan. 14, the Wizards upset the Bulls as 5½-point underdogs, 105-99 (Over, 196). This will be the last meeting in the regular season between these two teams.
Last Game Out, Significant Injuries
On Saturday night in Detroit, the Wizards ended a 6-game losing streak, defeating the Pistons in Washington, DC, as 4½-point favorites (Under, 194½), 99-95 but failing to cover the point spread by the Hair On The Chinny, Chin, Chin (½ point). In Chicago on Sunday before a national TV audience (ABC), the Bulls were upset by Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers here at the United Center in Chicago, 96-86 as actual 2-point Home underdogs (Under 197½) as the already hobbled Bulls (Derrick Rose, right knee, Out Indefinitely) saw SG Jimmy Butler leave the game with a hyperextended elbow injury. The 25-year-old Butler underwent an MRI on Monday and will now be sidelined for the next 3-6 weeks, another blow to this already beat-up team. Bulls Head Coach Tom Thibodeau was already without Taj Gibson (ankle, Day-To-Day)—who watched Sunday’s game in a walking boot— and Gasol also played sick. So, this is a Bulls team heading in here with a number of key parts either missing or less than 100% (Rose, Butler, Gibson, Gasol) while the Wizards only real significant injury is to backup F Kris Humphries (groin, hamstring). The Former Mr. Kim Kardashian has been impressive filling in for the oft-injured Nenê this season and has averaged 8.2 ppg and 6.4 rpg for Washington. Quite obviously, the visiting Wizards come in much healthier with all of its normal starting 5—PG Bradley Beal, SG John Wall, SF Paul Pierce, PF Marcin Gortat and C Nenê—all having started in the win against Detroit on Saturday night. Advantage, Wizards, but with 6 losses in their last 7, hard to get too pumped up about a side in this Tuesday evening encounter from The City With Broad Shoulders and Deep-Dish Pizza.
The Wizards (23-36-1 ATS) have been poor on the Road and just poor in general lately, although with the speedy Wall and Beal should definitely have the backcourt advantage over a Bulls side which may be using Aaron Brooks at PG and Kirk Hinrich at SG to start. But Chicago’s strength is in its frontcourt now—SF Mike Dunleavy, F Pau Gasol and C Joakim Noah—and the Bulls rank 4th in the NBA in rebounding (45.9 rpg) and should enjoy the edge in The Paint here at Home on Tuesday. But with the Wizards having already won here in their only trip to the Windy City (Jan. 14), Washington (10-18-1 ATS Away) and Head Coach Scott Wittman will come in confident from that past experience, as well as Saturday’s win over Detroit. But realistically, neither team is really playing for anything right now but middle-of-the-road seeding in the Eastern Conference and the potential absence of Chicago’s Gibson and Butler (as well as Rose obviously) affects the actual point spread and money line numbers in this game in a big way. A healthy Bulls lineup with Rose (and Butler and Gibson) in the fold and this point spread is probably about 3-4 points higher.
The Bulls (27-33 ATS) have been getting nice performances from often unheralded Serbian F Nikola Mirotic, and Chicago will really need him and role players like Hinrich and Tony Snell to shine against Washington because after them, this roster is now extremely thin with only names like Chicago-native Nazr Mohammed, Creighton rookie Doug McDermott, Cameron Bairstow and E’Twaun Moore. So, thin. Victoria Beckham thin. Lowest-level Deli Slicer, swiss cheese thin, brother. Thin, thin. So, Chicago (9-19-1 ATS Home) almost has to have Noah and Dunleavy have decent outings here and hope that Gasol illness has passed because at the Guard position this team looks like it could now be in some serious trouble.
Best Approach and Trends
This is a very tough handicap with Chicago (7-3 SU L10) so banged up right now and Washington (3-7 SU L10, L 6-7) so poor on the Road, and slumping lately, so, trying to pick a side here is tough, although it does appear there could be some value with the visiting Wizards (12-16-1 ATS Away) who have already beaten Chicago here once this season. Although the Bulls are 18-13 Over at Home in the United Center heading in, the fact that Washington is 12-16-1 O/U on the Road and that 2 of the previous 3 meetings went Under is enough to tip the scales to recommending the Under in this game. Trend-wise, the Under is 6-1-1 in the L8 Wizards games on the Road while the Under is 7-2 over the L9 Bulls games here in Chicago, including the L4 straight. With both teams somewhat beat up and a little worn down at this point in the season and the Bulls maybe without both normal starting guards, Chicago could try to slow it down and utilize Noah, Gasol and Dunleavy down low to try to milk every possession in an effort to keep it from evolving into a track meet. Expect these teams to go under with your NBA picks.
NBA Pick: Under 186½ at Pinnacle