Bulls vs. Cavaliers Clash: Take 'Under' As Your Sharp NBA Pick

Kevin Stott

Thursday, February 18, 2016 12:47 PM GMT

Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016 12:47 PM GMT

LeBron James and the defending Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers play host to Pau Gasol and the slumping Chicago Bulls. Let's review the NBA odds first for our sharp pick.

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Final Score Prediction: Cavaliers 99  Bulls 88
NBA Pick: Under 207
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

 

Chicago Bulls vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers (38-14 SU, 23-26-3 ATS) welcome Jimmy Butler and the Chicago Bulls (27-25 SU, 19-33-0 ATS) to the Quicken Loans Center in Cleveland on Thursday night for this third of four meetings between these two Central Division rivals this NBA Regular Season. Irish NBA odds makers have opened up the Cavaliers as solid 10½-point favorites (Paddy Power) for this one with the game’s Total (Points) set at 203½ (Marathon). The Money Line (Winner) odds here sees Cleveland priced as -633 Home favorites with Chicago lined at +530 on the takeback (Marathon) while the 1st Half line has been set with Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers as -5½ favorites (-116, Marathon).

 

Chicago Bulls
The Chicago Bulls (19-33-0 ATS, 10-16 ATS Road) and 1st-year Head Coach Fred Hoiberg have been really scuffling this season, especially as of late (L4, 2-8 L10) and Chicago now precariously sits just 2 games above. 500 and only 1 game in the standings away from falling out Playoff contention in the Eastern Conference as we enter the season’s 2nd Half after the All-Star Break. So why this Chicago plunge? Injuries, more injuries and this team just isn’t as good as it was anymore, and like some others in this conference, seems to have quickly regressed and probably needs a total implosion. The Bulls (55/1 to win NBA championship, Paddy Power) have always regarded Chicago product (Simeon High School) Derrick Rose as their leader, but the PG has always been injured throughout his career and always on the mend, hamstringing this franchise along the way. Love hurts. Right now for Chicago, starting C Joakim Noah (Shoulder) is Out for the Season, SG Jimmy Butler (Knee) is out until early March, upstart reserve PF Nikola Mirotic (Appendix) is Out Indefinitely and reserve PF Taj Gibson (Foot) is listed as Questionable here, so all of the other backup Bulls (3-8 ATS L11 vs Central Division) who themselves had Injuries not so long ago like SG E’Twaun Moore, SG Kirk Hinrich and SG Mike Dunleavy will have to step up along with guys like Tony Snell and old reliable C Pau Gasol (10.9 rpg), who represented the Bulls in this past weekend’s All-Star Game up in Toronto. There’s a reason why this team is a pathetic 19-33-0 ATS (36.5%) this Regular Season. And definitely Fade-a-Bull.

 

Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers (102.9 AF-96.9 AA) and new Head Coach Tyronn Lue have been holding onto the short-armed distance between themselves and whomever seems to be chasing them at the time in the Eastern Conference, for now the 2nd-place Toronto Raptors (35-17, 3 GB) and the 3rd-place and upstart Boston Celtics (32-23, 7½ GB), who have been involved in Trade Talks with the Cavaliers for PF Kevin Love (10.3 rpg), with Cleveland saying they wanted a Star-power guy involved in any potential future negotiations and not Picks and Scrubs for Love. In their last game, Cleveland (8-2 SU L10) defeated the Los Angeles Lakers, 120-111 here at Home at Quicken Loans Arena in Kobe Bryant’s last appearance in Cleveland as LeBron James had 29 points, 11 assists and 9 rebounds to lead the hosts and PG Kyrie Irving exploded for 35 points (15-24 FG, 3-6 3’s). Now starting C and Findlay Prep product Tristan Thompson had 15 points and 13 rebounds for Cleveland in the win and showed why having him start and Timofey Mozgov (6 points, 5 rebounds) coming in off the Bench is a better idea for this team which has picked up the scoring pace over the last couple of weeks. Starters JR Smith (9 points) and F Love (8 points, 6 rebounds) also had decent games against the Lakers for the Cavaliers, who with James (14/1 to be NBA Regular Season MVP, Ladbrokes) in high gear are 22-4 SU at Home and, as always, the team to beat in this conference, although news always seems to be swirling about this team. Cleveland (+275 to win NBA Championship, Betway) saw Love (Shoulder) hurt himself in the win against Los Angeles and he’s listed as Probable—as well as Tradeable—here against Chicago while backup PG Matthew Dellavedova (Hamstring) is listed as Questionable. So, the Cavaliers (Over 6-2 L8) head in a bit beat up, but not close to as badly as the Bulls.

 

Recent Series Trends, Logical Reasoning and Maybe Fade-the-Bulls Pick? Not today.
One team here is playing good and doesn’t have to worry about trying to make the Postseason to avoid embarrassment while the other team is playing bad and has been sliding consistently since winning at Boston on Jan. 7 to hit the season’s high-water mark (22-12). Since then, the Bulls have gone a miserable 5-13 SU, understandable with Noah, Butler (22.4 ppg), Rose (4.8 apg) and others constantly injured. But it seems oddsmakers are still giving Chicago a little too much credit, not realizing how thin the yarn on the sweater has become in the Windy City although the initial (Cavaliers minus) 10½ Irish operator Paddy Power has opened with shows the Chicago Injuries are now being baked into the (Point Spread) number. The Bulls (9-2 ATS L11 on Thursday) won the first two meetings in this series this season, winning outright as a 10½-point underdog in Cleveland on Jan. 23 (202, Under) and winning by 2 points on Opening Night (Oct. 27) in Chicago, 97-95, but failing to cover laying 4 points at the United Center (198½, Under).

And the Bulls and Butler have done very well against Cleveland over the L10 games in this series, going 7-3 ATS and 5-5 SU against James (25.0 ppg, 6.5 apg) and the Cavaliers and extended out to a larger sample size, the Bulls are an impressive 17-7 ATS in the L24 meetings. But probably half of the Chicago Roster wasn’t hurting like one is for all those past meetings. As far as the Total over the L10 meetings, the Under is 6-4 ATS and has hit the last 3 straight, going under by 23, 6½ and 25½ points, and with both teams reaching 100 points—in the same game, @ CLE 106 CHI 101 on May 10, 2015 in the Eastern Conference Playoffs—only once in the last six meetings, the heavy lean here is toward the Under. However, the last 15 Bulls games on the Road have seen seen the Over go 12-3 ATS (80%), so (Under) buyer beware and remember how hobbled both teams are now, that this will be both clubs first game after a very long All-Star Break (rust may be a factor) and that the Trade Deadline will also have ended, so a player like UCLA-product Kevin Love who was dangled like an expensive piece of bait, may (still) be wondering—if he hasn’t been dealt right before the Deadline—why he was even traded to this LeBron-centric team in the first place and where he will ultimately end up. All this confusion and apathy makes the handicap hard, especially with Cleveland laying so many points, but after losing twice to Chicago already and the Bulls without so many key players, it seems the Cavaliers will definitely win by 6 or more. So that makes the Under (207, Paddy Power) the safest NBA pick in what could be a sluggish and boring affair if Cleveland gets out to a big early lead at Home.

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