Free NBA Pick for Bulls-Grizzlies as Injuries to Play a Factor

Jason Lake

Friday, December 19, 2014 12:52 PM UTC

Friday, Dec. 19, 2014 12:52 PM UTC

Here we go again: Derrick Rose was a surprise scratch for the Chicago Bulls Thursday night. Will he be back on Friday when the Bulls visit the Memphis Grizzlies? The NBA odds are on hold until we find out.

Jason’s record as of Dec. 17: 19-16-1 ATS, 1-3 Totals

So much for getting the band back together. We thought we might see the Chicago Bulls at full capacity Thursday night when they hosted the New York Knicks, with Joakim Noah coming back after a four-game absence. Wrong. Derrick Rose was held out with a stomach virus, and Taj Gibson (ankle) didn’t look good enough during the warm-ups, so he didn’t play, either. Shazbot.

Fortunately for the Bulls, Carmelo Anthony didn’t play for New York. But in a very flat performance, Chicago could only manage a 103-97 victory as a 12.5-point home chalk. So what’s the plan for Friday’s matchup (8:00 p.m. ET) against the Memphis Grizzlies? We don’t know if Rose or Gibson are going to play or not, so we don’t have any NBA odds for you as we go to press. Let’s do our best to prepare anyway.

Big Spain
Everyone on TNT was talking about Jimmy Butler (21.1 PER) as a borderline MVP candidate and max-contract player. Not everyone here at the ranch agrees. Butler has certainly upgraded his game since last year (13.5 PER), particularly at the offensive end, where he’s scoring 19.0 points with 3.0 assists per 36 minutes. However, we’ll settle for Butler getting an All-Star nomination if he keeps up this level of play.

Not much else was going on during Thursday’s game, which is why everyone was talking about secondary issues like Butler’s worth, and how Pau Gasol (19.9 PER) is playing better now that he’s been freed from a bad situation in Los Angeles. Here’s our takeaway: The Bulls (16-9 SU, 11-14 ATS) had trouble beating a five-win Knicks team that started Travis Wear (minus-7.3 BPM) at small forward.

Even Bigger Spain
And now the Bulls have to make the trip south to face the Grizzlies (21-4 SU, 14-11 ATS), who were idle Thursday after racking up six straight wins at 4-2 ATS, including victories over the Golden State Warriors (+3.5 away) and the defending champions San Antonio Spurs (–3 at home). The win over San Antonio was a 117-116 slugfest in triple overtime; Marc Gasol (23.1 PER), also getting talked up as an MVP candidate, extended the game by banking in his first 3-pointer of the season at the end of regulation time.

Nice, although San Antonio didn’t have Tony Parker or Kawhi Leonard in the lineup. And the Warriors were without Andrew Bogut when they lost 105-98. But these are still good wins for the Grizz. Aside from Tony Allen (plus-3.8 DBPM) and his scratched cornea, the roster is healthy and productive. Memphis is No. 8 in the league in offensive efficiency at 106.6 points per 100 possessions, and No. 7 on defense at 100.2 points/100. It’s all systems go at both ends of the court.

Bulls and Bears
The fact that Memphis was able to beat these two top Western teams back-to-back is pretty darned impressive. On the year, the Grizzlies are 8-3 ATS against winning teams. The Bulls, on the other hand, are only 3-7 ATS in said circumstance. The Grizz are also 12-8 ATS after a victory, while Chicago is 5-10 ATS. And as far as back-to-back situations are concerned, the Bulls are 3-4 SU and 2-5 ATS this year playing the second of those games.

We like this dynamic enough to float the Grizzlies as our preferred NBA pick; naturally, you should wait for the injury reports and the betting lines to come out before making a commitment – if they aren’t out already by the time you read this. Thank you for reading, and may the sphere be with you and yours this holiday season.

Free NBA Pick: Take the Grizzlies

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