Free NBA Picks for Celtics vs. Bulls

Jason Lake

Saturday, November 8, 2014 1:58 PM GMT

The Chicago Bulls are 5-2-1 ATS versus the Boston Celtics since hiring former C’s assistant Tom Thibodeau as their head coach. But the NBA odds for Saturday’s meeting depend on Derrick Rose and his ankles.

Jason’s record as of Nov. 6: 4-0 ATS

Profit: plus-11.8 units

Basketball may be a team sport, but some players are clearly more important to their teams than others. Derrick Rose is one of those players. The former MVP has missed three of the last four Chicago Bulls games with bad ankles, and while the Bulls won all three games, they were 0-3 against the NBA odds.

Sadly, as we go to press we have no idea whether or not Rose will play Saturday night (8:00 p.m. ET, WGN) when Chicago hosts the Boston Celtics. And since Rose is so important, the basketball odds are on hold until more is known about his status. Perhaps they’re available right now as you read this. We’ll go ahead and make a blind NBA pick for this game, but it’ll have to be for a single betting unit – no point messing around with the Kelly criterion when we don’t even know the odds. The important thing is that we prep you as much as possible with what we do know.

 

Rosebud vs. Lemon
So let’s talk about those three ATS losses. The Bulls (5-1 SU, 2-4 ATS) may be on a four-game winning streak, but the quality of opposition has been lacking. After squeaking past the Minnesota Timberwolves (+2 at home) 106-105 on Nov. 1, Chicago has fattened up against the worst teams in the Eastern Conference:

Nov. 4: Orlando 90, Chicago 98 (ORL +10)
Nov. 5: Chicago 95, Milwaukee 86 (CHI –5)
Nov. 7: Chicago 118, Philadelphia 115 (PHI +10)

The game in the middle is the one that Rose played. After making it through the pregame shootaround in reasonable shape, the decision was made to start Rose, and he eventually warmed up to the task, finishing with 13 points, seven assists and two steals in 31 minutes. But on Friday against the Sixers, Rose didn’t even make it to pregame before he was scratched.

Rose hasn’t been the only difficult player in the Chicago lineup to pin down. Joakim Noah (illness) didn’t play against Orlando or Milwaukee, but he was back in action on Friday against Philadelphia and will presumably suit up when Boston comes to town. Noah only managed five points and nine rebounds in 31 minutes versus the Sixers. He looked healthy enough, though.

 

Another One Bites the Dust
Unfortunately, we can’t say the same think for Marcus Smart. The Celtics (2-3 SU and ATS) lost their prize first-round draft pick in Friday’s 101-98 nailbiter over the Indiana Pacers, who beat the NBA odds as 5.5-point road dogs. Smart had to be stretchered off the floor after he injured his left ankle; he was due to have an MRI following the game, but suffice to say, it didn’t look good.

It’s a shame. Smart was putting in his work off the Boston bench, learning his craft and posting a 111.6 Offensive Rating with a plus-2.2 Box Plus/Minus (BPM) at Pro Basketball Reference. Assuming that Smart is out for a while, his minutes will go to Phil Pressey, who had an 89 Offensive Rating and a minus-4.1 BPM for the Celtics in his rookie season. Oof.

Both Boston and Chicago will be playing their third game in four nights – in fact, the Bulls are playing their fourth game in five nights, so fatigue is going to be a factor in Saturday’s matchup. The Celtics did manage their minutes a bit better on Friday, but losing Smart cuts into their betting value. We’ll take our chances with the Bulls in this situation – with or without Rose, they’ve got the more talented team. But you might want to go in the other direction if Rose sits out.

Free NBA Pick: Bet one unit on the Bulls

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