Chicago Bulls (24-24 SU, 21-26-1 ATS)
The tandem of Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah dominated the glass with a combined 26 boards and contributed 33 points to pave the way towards a 101-92 victory in the desert over the streaking Suns. Phoenix had won five in a row until the Bulls suffocating defense held them to a season-low 13 points in the opening quarter. That is exactly the way Chicago has done it this year and if they could get the kind of balanced scoring they got Tuesday night then they would be a contender once again in the East.
Consider that when they began this road trip they opened up with a stunning 96-86 victory over the powerhouse San Antonio Spurs and got the easy cover as 7 ½ point underdogs in NBA odds. On Tuesday night they scored the aforementioned nine-point win over Phoenix, again as 7 ½ point dogs in NBA odds.
But wedged in between those two huge victories came disappointing losses to New Orleans and Sacramento, two of the league's weakest clubs. In those defeats the Bulls scored an anemic 79 points against New Orleans and put on one of the most feeble offensive displays of any team this season when they scored a mere 70 points against the lowly Kings.
The bottom line is when the Bulls score - the Bulls win. Chicago is averaging just 92.2 PPG (29th) but when they score at least 96 points the team has won 14 of 15 games. If they are to prevail tonight they will need the same kind of offensive production they got against the Suns.
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Golden State Warriors (29-20 SU, 22-26-1 ATS)
The Warriors will try to shake off a woeful shooting performance against the Bobcats on Tuesday night as they were trounced 91-75 as 11-point home favorites in NBA odds. Golden State had their worst field goal percentage in over nine years as they shot just 31.2 percent from the floor. Golden State were true warriors at home at the beginning of the season but lately they have been targets, dropping five of their last seven in front of the fan friendlies.
The Warriors are a much more balanced team than the inept group that showed up Tuesday night and fell to the subpar Bobcats. They rank 11th in both points scored and points allowed while dominating the glass averaging 46.1 rebounds per game (ranked 2nd). And though they may be a respectable 14-9 at home that record is deceiving if you have been including them in your NBA picks. Against the all-important number they are a dismal 8-14-1 and are only 2-6 ATS since the New Year at home.
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While one's knee-jerk reaction to the Warriors' inept performance on Tuesday night might be to surmise they will come out with piss and vinegar to avenge that humiliating defeat. But the Bulls are a different breed of cat when it comes to defense. They thumped the Warriors on March 15th of last year when they walked into the Oracle Arena as 5-point underdogs by online sportsbooks and dribbled out with a 113-95 dismantling of the home team.
As of this writing the Warriors are eight-point favorites which seems a bit steep to me considering the success Chicago has had recently. While Golden State boasts a much more balanced attack and a decent defense, the Bulls seem to be getting their mojo together at the right time and have proven they rise to the level of their competition. They won both of their meetings last season against GSW and if the oddsmakers want to give me a generous head start in my NBA picks, I will happily take it.
Play Chicago +8 at WilliamHill.com.