There's a light NBA schedule for bettors to play with on Monday, and the latest-starting matchup features Orlando at Chicago in a game that has a few injury questions. NBA odds are favoring Chicago by 11 points.
Will Rose Play?
The Bulls are considered an odd team by those placing NBA picks to figure out because they have beaten some of the best teams in the league but also then laid down at times against the worst. Case in point: Last Monday the Bulls beat the very good Houston Rockets 114-105. Two nights later, Chicago somehow lost by 20 at home to Utah thanks to shooting just 33.3 percent from the field.
The Bulls followed that Jazz defeat with an acceptable close loss in Washington but rebounded with a 95-87 home victory over Milwaukee on Saturday. Pau Gasol, who is having an All-Star season and looks rejuvenated after leaving L.A., had a career-high 46 points to go with 18 rebounds. He was the first Bulls player with at least 46 points and 18 boards since Michael Jordan had 69 points and 18 rebounds in a 117-113 overtime victory at Cleveland on March 28, 1990. No NBA player had matched those numbers since 2011. Gasol, who had just one fewer field goal made than the rest of the team, has been a revelation and the Bulls have to be thankful everyday that Carmelo Anthony didn't take their free-agent offer because if he did then Gasol wouldn't be in the Windy City. Now Melo has bad knees as well so you never know what hand fate will deal you.
The Bulls played without two starters against the Bucks in guard Derrick Rose and forward Mike Dunleavy. The latter has missed five straight games with a right ankle problem. Rose had some knee soreness, which is always a concern because it's the knee on which he had ACL surgery, but the team claims it's not worried. Rose probably will sit out some games in the second of a back-to-back the rest of the season. Bulls guard Tony Snell made his first start of the season against the Bucks had two points, six rebounds and two assists. Normally he barely gets any minutes. Rookie Nikola Mirotic usually gets extra minutes when there are injuries but he played only 13 against the Magic. Coach Tom Thibodeau is very untrusting of rookies.
Chicago is 17-21 against the spread this season and 19-18-1 'over/under' on NBA odds.
Orlando is on a season-high six-game losing streak and hasn't scored in triple digits in any of those games. Not a huge surprise considering the team ranks No. 28 in the NBA in scoring at 93.6 points per game. Nikola Vucevic had a huge game in Saturday's 103-92 loss in Portland with 34 points (career high) and 16 rebounds. He might well be the best center in the Eastern Conference.
Orlando played without two regulars against the Blazers. Forward Tobias Harris and guard Evan Fournier were out with injuries suffered in Friday's loss at the Lakers. Harris sprained his left ankle and Fournier sprained his right knee when they slipped on wet spots of the Staples Center court. Harris averages 18.0 points and 6.9 rebounds per game while Fournier, acquired in the Arron Afflalo trade with Denver this past offseason, averages 13.6 points per game. With those two out, the Magic's starting five against the Blazers was rookie Elfrid Payton (rookie), Victor Oladipo, Devyn Marble (first NBA start), Channing Frye and Vucevic.
Orlando is 22-18 against the NBA betting spread this season and 17-22-1 'over/under.'
On Nov. 4 in Chicago the Bulls were 10-point favorites (total of 189) and beat Orlando 98-90. That was the Magic's fourth straight loss to open the season, and the Bulls didn't have either Rose or Joakim Noah due to injury. The game was tied after three quarters before Chicago pulled away. Jimmy Butler had 21 points and Gasol 16 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Bulls. Harris led Orlando with 21 points while Vucevic had 19 points and 13 boards. The Magic have lost eight of the last nine regular-season meetings and 12 of the last 14 overall.
The Bulls have had some issues against bad teams at times this season. Orlando is 10-2 ATS in its past 10 on the road against teams with a winning home record. Chicago is 1-5 ATS in its past six after a loss. The 'under' is 5-1 in Chicago's past six against the East. Orlando is 5-1 ATS in its past six trips to Chicago.
NBA Free Picks: Magic +11 and 'under' at YouWager