Free NBA Picks for Nuggets vs. Bulls Suggest Going 'Under'

Jason Lake

Thursday, January 1, 2015 4:06 PM UTC

Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015 4:06 PM UTC

The Denver Nuggets can’t wait to put 2014 behind them. Their New Year could get off to a rocky start when they visit the Chicago Bulls, but the Nuggets might be worth your NBA pick as double-digit dogs.

Jason’s record as of Dec. 31: 21-20-1 ATS, 1-3 Totals

It’s been a solid 2014 for everyone here at the home office. But we’re looking forward to bigger and better things in 2015, including with our NBA picks. Out first assignment for the New Year takes us to the Second City, where the red-hot Chicago Bulls (22-10 SU, 15-17 ATS) will host the ice-cold Denver Nuggets (13-19 SU, 11-19-2 ATS) Thursday night. Should be an easy enough pick, right?

Not so fast. While the Nuggets have completely fallen off the cliff at 3-7 SU and 1-8-1 ATS in their last 10 games, the Bulls have dropped the cash in each of their last three games – twice as 10-point home faves on NBA odds. Guess where the basketball odds opened for Thursday’s game (8:00 p.m. ET)? Yup, Chicago –10.


Take Nothing on Its Looks
As we march into 2015, the Bulls are about as healthy as they’ve ever been. Derrick Rose (16.7 PER) has played six games in a row, as has Taj Gibson (18.1 PER). Joakim Noah (15.7 PER) has played eight straight, during which Chicago went 7-1 SU and 4-4 ATS. But with great health comes great expectations – or something like that. The Bulls were double-digit home faves in four of those eight games, and they went 1-3 ATS. Here’s the skinny:

Dec. 18: Knicks 97, Bulls 103 (NYK +12.5)
Dec. 25: Lakers 93, Bulls 113 (CHI –11.5)
Dec. 27: Pelicans 100, Bulls 107 (NO +10)
Dec. 30: Nets 96, Bulls 82 (BRK +10)

The only ATS win was on Christmas Day against a Lakers team that didn’t dress Kobe Bryant. On the season, Chicago is 3-7 ATS when favored by at least nine points, and 2-4 ATS at home against losing teams. This can happen when people expect you to win. But we can’t blame the betting public too much: The Bulls are only No. 14 on the public money charts this year.


Fill the Lane, Baby
We can blame Rose, though, when he’s at his best, the former MVP drives to the lane and shoots plenty of free throws. That hasn’t been happening much the past couple of weeks. In Tuesday’s loss to the Nets, Rose shot a grand total of zero freebies, while going 2-of-15 from the field and bricking all five of his trey attempts. Rose is 26.3 percent from long range this season – and it’s not like this is his forte anyway at 30.5 percent for his career.

Maybe this is as good as it’s going to get for Rose. All those drives into the paint have taken a toll on his body, and not only is Rose spending less time in the tall timber these days, his defense (which was never a strong suit) has dropped to a career-low minus-2.4 DBPM. As a result, Rose has actually been a detriment to his team at minus-0.3 BPM overall.

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Turn, Turn, Turn
So do we take our money and go rushing into the arms of the Nuggets for our NBA picks today? Well, they are 2-0 ATS this year as double-digit dogs. And they even beat the Bulls 114-109 back on Nov. 25 as 4.5-point home faves. But those were very different times for the Nugs. They were healthy and on a winning streak, while Noah and Gibson missed that game for Chicago, and Rose was limited to 10 minutes with a bad hamstring.

Among the players expected to sit out Thursday’s game for Denver: Danilo Gallinari (13.3 PER), JaVale McGee (17.3 PER) and Randy Foye (11.8 PER), who are out indefinitely. Wilson Chandler (12.7 PER) and Darrell Arthur (14.8 PER) are also day-to-day with leg injuries. We understand if you don’t want to invest in the leftover Nuggets. In fact, we’re recommending the UNDER on the total of 206.5, which is up from 204 at the open. The UNDER is 4-1 in Chicago’s last five and 6-1 in Denver’s last seven. From myself and all my colleagues here at the ranch, may the sphere be with you in 2015 and beyond.

Free NBA Pick: Take the UNDER at 5Dimes

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