NBA Picks: Bulls vs. Grizzlies to go Over

Jason Lake

Monday, December 30, 2013 1:04 PM GMT

Monday, Dec. 30, 2013 1:04 PM GMT

Both the Chicago Bulls and the Memphis Grizzlies are missing their top stars, but the Grizz might have enough in reserve to overcome the NBA odds this Monday night.

 Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013, up to December 29 inclusive:

33-30-1 ATS

8-5 Totals

All good things must come to an end – even losing streaks. The Chicago Bulls, for example, were on a beautiful 0-7 ATS slide before bagging the cash in three straight games, culminating with their 95-78 win over the Brooklyn Nets (–4 at home) on Christmas Day. And the Memphis Grizzlies were 0-5 ATS before beating the basketball odds in three of their last four games. How selfish can you get? Don’t they realize we’ve been profiting off their misfortune?

Back to the old drawing board. The Bulls (11-17 SU, 10-18 ATS) and Grizzlies (13-16 SU, 10-18-1 ATS) meet each other Monday night at the FedExForum; the early NBA lines have yet to be released as we go to press, based on the unknown status of a certain very tall British person. We’ll just have to work around that.

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General Hospital

As rough as the Bulls have it without Derrick Rose, playing in the Eastern Conference means there’s always hope. Chicago is just one game out of eighth place at press time and 2.5 games out of fifth. As long as the remaining Bulls don’t start dropping like flies, they’ve got every chance of making the postseason.

Unfortunately, Rose isn’t the only injury concern for the Bulls. SF Luol Deng (17.7 PER) has a sore Achilles and has missed the last four games – this after sitting out another four games earlier this month with the same injury. Deng is considered day-to-day, so pay close attention to the newswires leading up to game time (8:00 p.m. ET, NBA-TV).

Chicago was 1-3 SU and 0-4 ATS during Deng’s previous absence, but things are different this time around. SF Jimmy Butler (14.7 PER) made his return to the lineup two weeks ago after missing 11 games with a turf toe injury. Butler can’t match Deng’s production levels, but he’s a quality defender on a Bulls team that ranks No. 6 in the league in defensive efficiency. Now let’s see if Butler can stay in the lineup – he aggravated his toe in Saturday’s 105-83 loss to the Dallas Mavericks (–2.5 away) and is also considered day-to-day.

Memphis Blues

The Grizzlies have had to make do without center Marc Gasol (20.3 PER) for the last 16 games, going 6-10 SU and ATS in the process. But as I said, things have been looking up as of late. Memphis’ mini-streak coincides with the one-day demotion of center Kosta Koufos (15.2 PER) and the promotion of PF Ed Davis (17.7 PER) to the starting lineup. You remember Davis, right? It’s okay if you don’t. Davis was a quality young reserve for the Toronto Raptors before getting packaged in last year’s Rudy Gay trade and getting his minutes cut in Memphis.

Apparently Koufos got the message. His play has improved since rejoining the starting five, and the return of Tayshaun Prince (8.0 PER) leaves the Grizzlies at nearly full capacity for the first time in a while. However, if Memphis is going to make any inroads in the Western Conference, it’ll be with Gasol in the middle. He’s expected to come back from his sprained MCL in early January.

Since both the Bulls and the Grizzlies have played well this past week, it’s pretty tough to make a pick without an NBA spread and without knowing Deng’s status. But I’m willing to roll the dice on those NBA totals. Although the Bulls are playing lockdown defense, the OVER is 8-7 on the road compared to 3-10 at the United Center. The OVER has also cashed in for the Grizz in their last two home games since Koufos got his wake-up call. I anticipate an artificially low total for this matchup. We’ll see what the basketball gods deliver.

NBA Pick: Take the OVER

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