Bulls Have Edge as Rockets Reset Roster: NBA Picks

Doug Upstone

Monday, January 5, 2015 3:15 PM GMT

Those making NBA picks have their work cut out for them with this contest versus the betting odds. Do you support Houston who is just 4-5 SU and ATS since Dec. 18th or is Chicago more attractive?

Attractive like those in the TV show - Zombie Apocalypse – with their recent 0-5 against the spread record. Let’s break down both teams to determine who might be the best side to play tonight.

 

Shooting Will Determine Outcome
This probably a cliché, but for this particular game it is extremely true. Houston shot 39.8 percent in 111-83 thumping at New Orleans four days ago and followed that up by connecting on 50 percent of attempts in mauling Miami 115-79 two evenings later.

Typically for those who study the NBA odds, after low/high shooting performances (or the opposite scenario), team usually knock down close to their average in their next outing, which in the Rockets case is 43.1 percent, which is good for only 26th in the Association.

The Bulls have won nine of ten, but the reason they have done so poorly against the spread is their inability to connect on shots. This has been particularly true in their past four non-covers, in which their best effort was 41.8 percent, with the rest in the 30’s.  

 

Houston Adding Parts Has Led to Chemistry Failures
Coach Kevin McHale is still trying to find the right roles for acquisitions Corey Brewer and Josh Smith. Brewer is a true professional with a defensive mindset which will help Houston both short term and long term.

Picking up Smith was a gamble and after playing well in his first game, he’s not done anything sense and already lost his starting slot in just five games.

The Rockets picked up Smith convinced he could still play and thought being a winning team would improve his demeanor compared to Detroit. Also, with big personalities like Dwight Howard and James Harden in the locker room, if Smith begins showing negative signs, they have players who will get in his face.

McHale now has a great deal of flexibility with his roster and has to determine the best way to use it.

 

Chicago Offense Needs to Match Defense
After a slow start, the Bulls are playing the kind of defense we have come to expect with Tom Thibodeau as the head coach. While Chicago’s shooting has been off, they have moved up to fourth in field goal percentage defense and having Joakim Noah and Paul Gasol has a great deal to do with it.

With Jimmy Butler back tonight and the emergence of rookie Nikola Mirotic, it just a matter of confidence for Bulls shooters as this team might ultimately be the best in the East and again worthy of being used for sports picks.

 

Betting Odds and Head to Head
Sportsbooks waited until this morning to make Chicago a 2.5-point favorite, with Jimmy Butler back from bereavement leave.

The straight up winner has covered the past five and in four of those instances this has been Houston. In fact, the Rockets are soaring with a 5-1 ATS mark against the Bulls since Dec. 2010.

 

Scheduling
Houston opens a three games in four nights road trip in the Windy City and will be in Cleveland on Wednesday and New York the following night. The Rockets are a respectable 10-6 with a day between games but are just 5-10-1 ATS in this situation.

Those placing NBA picks continue to lick their chops with Chicago at home with their sordid 5-11 ATS record despite 10 wins. The Bulls are on the throes of playing eight times at home in nine games. With a day off, Chicago is 11-3, but just 6-8 ATS.

 

The Choice
Chicago might not be covering, but they are winning games and with Houston still up in the air remaking their roster, I view the Bulls has the better choice here and will give the 2.5 points.

NBA Basketball Free Pick: Chicago -3 at YouWager