Free NBA Picks for Tonight's TNT Finale Between the Chicago Bulls & the LA Lakers

Jason Lake

Thursday, January 29, 2015 12:17 PM GMT

Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015 12:17 PM GMT

The Los Angeles Lakers seem intent on tanking the remainder of the 2014-15 NBA campaign. Their new starting rotation doesn’t make them a great basketball pick with the Chicago Bulls coming to town.

Jason’s record as of Jan. 27: 25-25-3 ATS, 2-4 Totals

 

Of course the Los Angeles Lakers aren’t better off without Kobe Bryant. He was their leading scorer at 23.3 points per 36 minutes, not to mention the reason people came out to watch an otherwise awful team. Things are only going to get more difficult for the Lakers (12-34 SU, 19-23-4 ATS) now that Bryant is expected to miss the rest of the year with a rotator cuff injury. Bryant might not even be healthy again until November, should he come back for one more season.

Bryant’s absence does make Los Angeles a better NBA pick, though – in theory. Unfortunately, the Lakers are making things even harder for themselves by leaving some of their best players on the bench, and not in the starting lineup. We’ll be hard-pressed to recommend the Lakers for Thursday’s matchup (10:30 p.m. ET, TNT) when they host the Chicago Bulls (30-17 SU, 21-26 ATS). So will the fact that the NBA odds are pending as we go to press. Silly Bulls.

 

Don’t Mess with Ed
You may recall we were on the Lakers last week as +14 underdogs against the San Antonio Spurs. Imagine our dismay when L.A. trotted out this post-Kobe starting five:

PG: Jordan Clarkson (12.0 PER)
SG: Wayne Ellington (14.2 PER)
SF: Ryan Kelly (6.0 PER)
PF: Jordan Hill (16.6 PER)
C: Robert Sacre (9.8 PER)

Sweet Melinda Gates, that’s a nightmare rotation – for Los Angeles supporters. If youth must be served, fine, but this isn’t even close to the most competitive lineup the Lakers could deploy. How about, oh, I don’t know, this starting five:

PG: Jeremy Lin (14.2 PER)
SG: Nick Young (15.5 PER)
SF: Wesley Johnson (11.2 PER)
PF: Ed Davis (18.0 PER)
C: Jordan Hill (16.6 PER)

Now there’s a team that’s still going to get spanked by most opponents, but at least there should be more victories and closer defeats along the way. The Lakers managed a push against the Spurs, then they honked one against the Houston Rockets (–8.5 away) before stealing the cash Tuesday night against the slumping Washington Wizards (–8 away). Let’s see them try that against the Bulls after Young sprained his ankle on Monday.

 

Boom Pau Pau
Well, if the Lakers were hoping to catch the Bulls on a bad day, they’ve had a few of them recently. Chicago is just 10-8 SU and 6-12 ATS since the holidays, although business has picked up again at 3-1 SU and ATS in their past four games. It’s been a frustrating mix of injuries and inconsistency for the Bulls this year. The basketball odds for their games are often kept under wraps until game time; at the moment, Mike Dunleavy (11.8 PER) is the only Bull on the injured list, while Jimmy Butler (20.9 PER) is dealing with an undisclosed illness.

When the Bulls play up to their potential, they can beat anyone. They even beat the NBA’s best team, the Golden State Warriors (–11 at home), 113-111 in overtime on Tuesday. Derrick Rose (16.7 PER) led the Bulls with 30 points; however, he also committed 11 turnovers and shot just 4-of-12 from long range. Pau Gasol (22.2 PER) was the true star with 18 points, 16 rebounds, eight assists and four blocks. He is the best player on this Bulls team today.

Joakim Noah (14.9 PER) was also in fine form with 18 points, 15 boards, six assists and a pair of steals. As long as Gasol and Noah are working down low, Chicago can get away with some of Rose’s shooting indiscretions. We’d feel better about Thursday’s game if we knew Butler were going to play, but we’ll go ahead and make Chicago one of our NBA picks for this TNT doubleheader.

Free NBA Pick: Take Bulls at BetOnline

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