The Chicago Bulls came up short against LeBron James and the NBA odds on Halloween, and they had to play overtime in the process. Can they recover in time to face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday?
Jason’s record as of Oct. 31: 2-0 ATS
Profit: plus-4.9 units
The Chicago Bulls were too busy for tricks and treats Friday night. They had their hands full with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, and despite a late surge by Chicago, it was the Cavs (+4 away) coming out on top, 114-108 in overtime. If that weren’t bad enough for the Bulls, Derrick Rose sprained his ankle late in the first half and eventually left the game. That’s the scariest Halloween Chicago’s had in some time.
Because the NBA is cruel and unusual, the Bulls have to travel right away to Minneapolis to face the Minnesota Timberwolves Saturday night (8:00 p.m. ET, NBA-TV) at the Tar-Zhay. Chicago opened as a 4.5-point road chalk, but by the time the final horn sounded on the loss to the Cavaliers, the Bulls were down to –3.5, and even –3 at a handful of the online sportsbooks on our NBA odds board.
The Bulls (1-1 SU and ATS) did some very nice things on Friday. Their pick-and-roll worked well early; Rose had 20 points in 25 minutes before heading to the dressing room, and Pau Gasol looked like a strong fit with his new teammates. But Chicago started losing control of this game when the second unit came in. Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic were both ineffective, combining for zero points as Cleveland took the lead in the second quarter.
Then the Rose injury happened. The Bulls did their best to hang around, even though James (36 points) repeatedly left Mike Dunleavy in the popcorn machine. With Jimmy Butler (thumb) already on the shelf, Chicago head coach Tom Thibodeau decided to put Tony Snell on LeBron to stop the bleeding. Then Kirk Hinrich got hot from 3-point range to give the Bulls the lead in the fourth – a lead that they couldn’t protect.
Losing to Cleveland is no shame, especially this early in the season. Bulls supporters are much more concerned about Rose’s health going forward. At first, it appeared to be a minor ankle sprain – Rose played through the pain for a while, but was ineffective and eventually pulled from the game. At least Aaron Brooks (11 points in 20 minutes) played well. Brooks might have to carry the load at some point for the Bulls – but it doesn’t look like it’ll have to be Saturday night, as Rose has told reporters that his injury was indeed minor. Same goes for Taj Gibson, who was able to return to action after rolling his ankle mid-game.
To be honest, we would have added the Wolves (1-1 SU, 2-0 ATS) to our NBA picks anyway. They were idle on Friday after beating the Detroit Pistons 97-91 as 5-point home faves on Thursday. It’s obviously very early in the season, but it’s still an advantage for Minnesota to be playing on an extra day of rest, especially at home, with Chicago having to travel after playing an extra five minutes against a fast and physical Cavs squad.
We’re already very pleased with what we’re seeing from Minnesota – our preferred OVER team against the regular season win totals. Andrew Wiggins has made some explosive plays at shooting guard, Thaddeus Young is putting up some big numbers at power forward in place of Kevin Love, and we’re seeing the usual solid results from PG Ricky Rubio and center Nikola Pekovic. Even PF Anthony Bennett has shown some improvement in limited minutes off the bench. We’re very happy to take the Wolves in this situation.
The Five Stars
Market Bias: MIN
Betting Line Value: MIN
Verdict: 1-star pick on MIN
Free NFL Pick: Bet 1.4 units on the Timberwolves +3.5 at Guardian