NBA Pick: Underdog Value Play Thursday

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, January 2, 2014 5:00 AM GMT

Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay underdog that has a better chance of cashing than its odds, offering long term value. Here is their Underdog Value Play for Thursday.

With the home team struggling mightily without its superstar again, the spunky visitors appear to hold value Thursday night when the Boston Celtics (13-18, 5-9 away) pay a visit to the Chicago Bulls (12-18, 7-7 home) at the United Center in Chicago, IL at 8:05 ET.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Boston as a road underdog for this contest with the current line at +4 with odds of -104.

The Bulls were one of the favorites in the Eastern Conference before this year began with Derrick Rose back after missing last season, but they lost Rose again for this season, this time to a torn meniscus in his right knee suffered on November 22nd, and the Bulls have gone 6-13 straight up since the injury.

The Celtics are in their first season under rookie NBA coach Brad Stevens after he had amazing success at Butler in the NCAA, and although they have been rather inconsistent while going 13-18 overall, that record is actually one-half game better than the overall record of the Bulls right now and it actually has Boston in second place and just 2½ games behind Toronto in the weak Atlantic Division.

What has been rather puzzling about the Bulls is that they have played better on the road that at home since the beginning of last season, especially from a betting perspective. Chicago went a modest 24-17 straight up and a poor 13-28 ATS at the United Center during the 2012-13 regular season and 2-3 straight up and 1-4 ATS here during the playoffs, and this season has not really been much different with the Bulls just 7-7 straight up and 5-9 ATS in the Windy City.

Much like last year, the Chicago defense has been fine as the Bulls are second in the league in points against at 92.8 per game, but the Bulls are being held back by an atrocious offense without Rose, as they are dead last in the NBA in scoring at 91.3 points per contest as well as 28th out of 30 teams in both field goal percentage (42.3 percent) and three-point shooting (32.7 percent). Furthermore, as great as the Bulls’ interior defense is, they are only 28th in three-point defense.

The Celtics are coming off of a tough 92-91 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on New Year’s Eve while getting outscored 30-24 in the fourth quarter, blowing a lead that was as much as 18 points in the second quarter. That marked the third time in the last five games that the Celtics have blown a double-digit lead and lost the game, as this is now a young team in transition with all of its veterans traded away and Rajon Rondo still weeks away from his season debut.

However, the Celtics would love to again be in a position with a double-digit lead here as the Bulls would simply lack the firepower to come back. The Celtics are a respectable 15-15-1 ATS overall this season, but they have been as their best in this road underdog role going 8-5, 61.5 percent ATS.

That is mainly because Stevens is stressing defense just like he did in college, and Boston is thus fifth in the NBA in points against at 96.8 per game and hardly ever gets totally blown out. That combined with the inept Chicago offense appears to give the Celtics long-term value as underdogs Thursday.

[gameodds]5/251857/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NBA Pick: Celtics +4 (-104)