The Chicago Bulls aren’t a fully healthy team but where have we read that before? They face the Denver Nuggets tonight and again, there are no NBA betting line as we await the status of Derrick Rose.
The Chicago Bulls Can Win Because…
Their opponent is not yet at a point where it can be called reliable or consistent. The Nuggets have reeled off three straight wins heading into a Sunday night game against the Los Angeles Lakers, but they caught the Cleveland Cavaliers at the beginning of a recent downward trend – they did not play the Cavs who could become a quality team before the season is over. The Nuggets beat an Oklahoma City team without its two stars. If anything, the best Denver win over the past week was the one against the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night. More has to be seen from Denver, though: The Nuggets are 27th in the league in defense, allowing an average of nearly 106 points per game. Denver scored an average of 110 points per game in its three-game winning streak, setting a tone and preventing its defense from having to work from behind. The Nuggets are a good front-runner, but they have to show they can win in other ways.
This is where Chicago comes in.
The Bulls have established a reputation under head coach Tom Thibodeau for being so solid on defense and rebounding. The Bulls are 12th in the league in both scoring defense and rebounding – not outstanding, but better than most teams in the league. They are 10th in assists, another indication that they do most things well. Chicago’s offense is 15th, which seems bad until you realize that this is being done mostly without Derrick Rose. An average of 100 points a game is reasonable in light of that fact.
The Denver Nuggets Can Win Because…
They're playing a team that just isn’t healthy, and will be playing the second game of a back-to-back at altitude. This is really the perfect setup for the Nuggets. Teams playing the back end of two straight games face a challenge as it is. Playing in Denver in the second half of a back-to-back is a killer for visiting teams in the NBA. For Chicago, this problem is likely to be even worse. Derrick Rose has not played the past week, and Pau Gasol has missed multiple games recently as well. The Bulls were helpless in Sacramento and Portland without Gasol. If this shorthanded team can’t call upon reinforcements in this game following a Monday night game in Utah, what will it be able to do? The Bulls’ legs will be gone, and since Denver does have the tenth-best scoring offense in the league (entering Sunday night) and the eighth-best rebounding average, the Nuggets seem to have enough to deal with the Bulls.
The Bulls are not healthy enough to handle the second part of a back-to-back at altitude. Maybe Gasol will be ready, but it’s hard to expect Chicago to be healthy enough to win. You wouldn’t want to take Bulls with your NBA picks.
NBA Free Pick: Play Denver at BookMaker