Wizards upset the Bulls in last year's playoffs, and the Bulls get their first chance of the new season at a bit of payback . Washington is a 3-point favorite on NBA odds with a total of 197.
Bulls Finally Healthy
Definitely a tough back-to-back for Chicago as it hosted the Toronto Raptors, the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference, on Monday night. Derrick Rose returned for the Bulls after missing two games with an illness and had 29 points in Chicago's 129-120 victory. The Bulls posted a regulation-season high for points and shooting at 54.1 percent. Rose had played in 11 straight games before getting sick. It was his longest stretch of consecutive games since the 2011-12 season. Rose scored 15 of the Bulls' franchise-record 49 points in the fourth quarter. He looked like the pre-ACL tear Rose.
Jimmy Butler, who must be an All-Star this season, had 27 points, 11 rebounds, five blocks and four assists in 44 minutes. Taj Gibson was back after missing the past two with an ankle injury. He had 10 points and seven rebounds. The Bulls have rarely had their top six players of Rose, Butler, Mike Dunleavy, Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah and Gibson healthy for the same game this season. Only Dunleavy hasn't missed a game. Presumably Rose and Gibson will play again tonight, but you can never be 100 percent sure in the second of a back-to-back.
Chicago (18-9), which has won three straight and six of seven, is 13-14 against the NBA betting spread this season and 15-11-1 'over/under.'
Best Wizards Team in Years?
Washington (19-7) had a six-game winning streak -- albeit only one of those wins over a quality opponent -- snapped in Sunday's 104-92 home defeat to Phoenix. A win would have cemented the best start in franchise history. It was tied 50-50, but the Suns took control in the third quarter, leading by as much as 13, when Goran Dragic scored 12 of his 16 points. Washington would get to within six with around 2:40 left in the fourth, but then Phoenix scored nine in a row and that was that. The Wizards had just 11 assists, by far a season low, and shot 41 percent from the field. John Wall and Bradley Beal each were held to 15 points. The Wizards had won eight straight home games. At 13-3 at Verizon Center, the Wizards are off to their best start at home in franchise history.
Wall entered this week tied for the NBA lead in double-doubles with 16. He's averaging 17.8 points, 10.5 assists and 4.6 rebounds and deserves to be an All-Star for the second year in a row. Beal is averaging only 15.1 points, down from last year's 17.1. Beal didn't debut this season until Nov. 19 because of injury. Brazilian big man Nene has been coming off the bench since returning from a knee injury with Kris Humphries in his place. That will remain the case until Nene's foot is totally pain free.
If the Wizards hold a team under 100 points they are money in the bank and might consider adding them to your NBA picks. They are 15-0 when holding opponents under triple digits and 11-0 at home. The last time the Wizards won their first 15 games of the season when holding opponents under 100 points was in 1977-78 when they won their first 17 games. Washington ranks seventh in the NBA in points allowed at 97.1 per game.
The Wizards are 11-15 against the spread this season and 13-12-1 'over/under' on NBA odds.
The Wizards won two of three against the Bulls in the regular season. Rose didn't play in any of them. D.J. Augustin, no longer on the team, led Chicago by averaging 16.0 points in those three games vs. the Wizards. Carlos Boozer, now a Laker, averaged, 15.7 points. Noah was at 12.7 points and 13.3 rebounds. Wall led the Wizards in averaging 20.7 points and 8.7 assists. In the playoffs, Chicago was a No. 4 seed and Washington No. 5 and the Wizards won the series in five games. Nene really gave a hobbled Noah trouble. Nene, who missed one game, averaged 17.8 points on .548 shooting along with 6.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists. Beal averaged 19.8 points.
NBA Free Picks: Wizards -3 and 'over' 197 points. The Bulls were pushed to the limit on Monday and figure to have heavy legs. Wizards won't lose two straight at home. Chicago has failed to cover six straight Tuesday games. Washington has covered five of its past six on the day. The 'over' is 4-1 in the past five meetings.