NBA Picks: Bulls vs. Heat

Jeff Grant

Friday, January 4, 2013 12:58 PM GMT

LeBron James averaged 31.8 points versus the Chicago Bulls last season, but the Miami Heat forward is listed as probable on the injury report with a knee injury after missing practice Thursday.  Let’s take a closer look at the betting odds for this Eastern Conference matchup.


Inconsistent pattern

Chicago has alternated wins and losses over its last four games, as it comes off a 96-94 victory over the Orlando Magic as three-point road favorites, while going 0-4 against the spread (ATS) during that entire span.  The Bulls have been playing better defense since allowing a season-high 120 points on Christmas Day, allowing an average of 87.3 points  over their last three contests.  The team is 6-10 ATS when taking on teams with a winning record this year. 

Putting in some extra time

Miami has won back-to-back overtime games against the Dallas Mavericks and Orlando Magic since suffering a two-game losing streak, while going OVER the NBA betting lines in each of those affairs.  The Heat have compiled a solid 22-8 straight-up record through 30 games, but they enter this high-profile affair with an even 15-15 ATS mark.

Dangerous against conference foes 

Sports bettors may find the Bulls to be a dangerous underdog when looking over the NBA odds, considering they’ve won seven of their eight road games against Eastern Conference opponents this year.  It’s still important to note that the franchise is 0-2 SUATS when getting 6.5 to 9 points away from the Windy City this year, with both of those affairs going UNDER the total.

Century mark

The Heat have one of the more dynamic offenses in the entire NBA, which is clearly evident with them scoring 100 points or more in 15 of 17 home games, while doing so in 21 of 30 overall.  Miami has failed to cover the spread by an average of 20 points when failing to reach the century mark at AmericanAirlines Arena during the 2012-13 regular season. 

Falling short against quality competition 

There’s no question that Friday night’s visitor will need to win this game on the defensive end, ranking third in the league in surrendering just 91.6 points per game, as it continues to play without star point guard Derrick Rose.  Chicago is 6-10 ATS when playing against a team with a winning record this year, while failing to cover six of 10 games versus foes that average 99-plus points per game.

[gameodds]5/133607/238-999997-43-999996-19-1096-198-349/us[/gameodds]

Prediction

I’m going to recommend that readers play the total as one of their NBA picks, as the UNDER is 4-1 in the last five meetings in this series, while the Heat have fallen short of the number in eight of their last 11 games when facing a team with a road winning percentage of greater than .600. 

NBA Pick:  Under 191 at Pinnacle