Each day the LT Profits Sports Group seeks out a total that simply does not add up and therefore offers the most value that day. Here is their Total Value Play of the Day for Friday.
Expect a relatively high scoring and entertaining contest on national TV Friday night when the Portland Trail Blazers (17-5, 7-3 away) travel east to pay a visit to the Chicago Bulls (13-8, 3-5 home) at the United Center in Chicago, IL at 7:05 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPN.
The posted total at Pinnacle Sports is 199½ for this contest with the current odds on the ‘over’ set at -102.
Battle of First Place Teams
This is now a non-conference NBA pick battle of division leaders, although the Bulls are actually in a tie atop their division. The Blazers already have a nice seven game bulge in the Northwest Division of the Western Conference over second place Denver although it is probably third place Oklahoma City, currently eight games back, that Portland will have to worry about eventually with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook both back for the Thunder.
Speaking of the Thunder, when Oklahoma City beat the Cavaliers last night with Cleveland playing without LeBron James, it allowed these Bulls to climb into a first place tie with the Cavs in the Central Division of the Eastern Conference at 13-8. Oddly, Chicago has been at its best on the road as it is just 3-5 straight up here at the United Center compared to a sparkling 10-3 when travelling.
Not the Same Bulls
Now, the Bulls have been personified by stifling defense ever since Tom Thibodeau took over as head coach, but they have seemingly changed their personality this season. Yes having Derrick Rose back helps the offense, but he is not the only reason for the improvement as he is actually just third in the club in scoring with his 16.2 points per game. The other reasons have been the maturation of Jimmy Butler (21.5 points) and the addition of Pau Gasol (19.8).
So after simultaneously leading the NBA in fewest points allowed at 91.8 per game but also ranking dead last in points scored with 93.7 last season, the Bulls are up to 10th in scoring this season at 102.7 points per contest, as in addition to the new additions they are playing at a considerably faster tempo ranking 10th in the league in Pace Rating with 96.3 possessions per game after ranking near the bottom of the heap in that category every season under Thibodeau previously.
The flip side of that is Chicago is down to 14th in points against at 99.5 per game, although it is still a very good sixth in field goal percentage allowed at 43.4 percent. That is an indication that the main reason the points allowed are up is the newfound pace the Bulls are playing at, and that has been truer here at home despite the disappointing 3-5 record as the ‘over’ is 6-2 in games played here with a previously un-Bulls-like average combined total score of 207.4 points!
Looking to Bounce Back from Poor Effort
The Blazers are averaging 102.2 points per game overall, but perhaps the worst news for the Bulls tonight is that Portland should be in an ornery mood following a shocking 90-82 road loss to the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday. Yes the Blazers were playing the second game of a back-to-back after winning in Detroit on Tuesday, but that is still no excuse to lose to the now 5-16 T-Wolves outright and the Trail Blazers know that.
Thus they will probably come out breathing fire Friday as they look to continue their uncanny success vs. the Bulls that has seen Portland win the last seven head-to-head meetings straight up. As mentioned though, that streak was accomplished vs. much different Chicago teams, but the irony there is that the Blazers figure to flourish more vs. this now faster paced Bulls’ team, as Portland faces running teams more often playing in the Western Conference.
An ‘over’ Head-to-Head Series
Besides Portland dominating this series on the court, the ‘over’ has gone 10-4-1 in the last 15 meetings and that was with the Trail Blazers usually needing to carry most of the scoring load. Now that the Bulls actually have an offense this season, we see no reason why this game cannot get into the 200s.
And that would be all that would be needed to cash this ticket, so we recommend an ‘over’ when Portland visits Chicago on ESPN Friday.
NBA Pick: Trail Blazers, Bulls ‘over’ 199½ (-102)