The Chicago Bulls are in an in-between situation as they prepare to face the Boston Celtics. On one hand, Joakim Noah won’t be available for this Friday’s game. On the other hand, Derrick Rose looked a lot more like his old self on Wednesday night against the Washington Wizards. This is what bettors have to sift through as they prepare to make a play on this contest where the Bulls are a five-point road favorite on the NBA betting lines.
The Chicago Bulls Can Win Because…
There is relief about the ability of Derrick Rose to play really well… not just okay, but really well.
Rose had profoundly struggled last week. He was 3 of 15 from the field in a 97-77 loss at home to the Utah Jazz. He was similarly weak and ineffective last Friday in a loss to the Washington Wizards. Rose looked like a diminished player, and because of that, the Wizards were able to roll past the Bulls. Chicago took a few steps back in the Eastern Conference race. However, this past Wednesday in a rematch against Washington, Rose was not just decent, but excellent. He was as completely transformed player. He scored 32 points and was bouncing around the court with the energy Bulls coaches, fans and players remember from when he was at his very best. With Rose playing up to or even near his capabilities, driving hard to the basket and being able to hit his jump shot with a reasonable degree of consistency, Chicago becomes a very different team. Sure, Joakim Noah might be out, but if Rose is playing well, the Bulls can handle whatever comes their way… especially against the Celtics.
Boston is just 3-7 in its last 10 games. The Celtics were blown out by the Atlanta Hawks in the final two and a half quarters of Wednesday night’s game in Boston. The Celtics play for a coach, Brad Stevens, who was the architect of great college defenses at Butler. In the pros, though, Stevens has not been able to repair the Celtics’ defense, which allows 103.8 points per game. Chicago can rip this defense apart.
The Boston Celtics Can Win Because…
They have a much better chance of staying in the ring with the Bulls now that Joakim Noah is out. Noah might not have been enjoying a great season, but he was still giving the Bulls nearly 10 rebounds a game and one and a half blocked shots per game. He still played solid position-based defense. He was still a leader in the locker room. He still gave the Bulls energy and swagger on the court. He was and has been – and still is – a core part of the Chicago roster. However, his sprained ankle removes him from the Bulls’ rotation in this game, and that lack of a low-post defender takes away from the Bulls’ depth. Pau Gasol and Taj Gibson can still get a lot of work done, but they might be overextended in this game.
Keep in mind that Boston has a quality offense, even though its defense isn’t great. The Celtics average over 102 points per game, which is better than six of the eight current playoff-positioned teams in the Eastern Conference. Boston can win this game not by out-defending Chicago, but by outscoring the Bulls.
NBA odds makers have set the line in favor of the Bulls as 5 point favorites, and despite a few injuries, we expect that the boys from Chicago are up for the task. The Bulls are wounded but the Celtics are so weak on defense that Chicago’s perimeter and wing scorers, including Jimmy Butler in addition to Rose, can score a lot and lead the Bulls to a high-scoring win. The Bulls are 14-5 in road games and 5-0 when on the road favored by 3.5 to 6 points. We’ll take them with our NBA picks expecting a win and given all of the other factors, they should cover the five points.
NBA Pick: Chicago -5 at Bovada