Both the Chicago Bulls & Charlotte Hornets have failed to bring any consistency to our NBA picks this year. That’ll happen when players are shuffling in and out of the lineup. Who’s our choice for Friday night?
Jason’s record as of Mar. 11: 48-45-4 ATS, 4-8 Totals
It’s not very often you get to ride a team that keeps racking up ATS win after ATS win – or fade a team that can’t seem to buy a bucket. That’s just not the way NBA Picks work. Most of the time, we’re left chasing down small differences, and trying to pin down teams that win one day and lose the next. Regression to the mean and all that.
If you’re willing to tackle the high variance that comes with these more marginal basketball picks, then take a trip with us to the Hive, where the Charlotte Hornets will host the Chicago Bulls this Friday night (7:00 p.m. ET). The Hornets couldn’t get the job done for us on Wednesday night, and the Bulls thwarted our fade attempt, but we’re going to set the table for you anyway. Even if we don’t know for sure who’ll play center for either team. Naturally, the NBA odds are on hold until we find out.
Sink the Bismack!
In retrospect, we were a little too cavalier about whether or not Cody Zeller (14.2 PER) would play for Charlotte Wednesday night against the Sacramento Kings. He didn’t, and the Kings won 113-106 as 8-point road dogs in NBA Odds. But Zeller’s status can’t be glossed over this time around, not with Al Jefferson (20.2 PER) suffering a strained right calf and knee in that matchup. Jefferson is considered day-to-day after the MRI came up negative; he’s expected to sit out Friday’s game.
Not that Zeller’s absence was the reason the Hornets (28-35 SU, 30-31-2 ATS) didn’t cash in against the Kings – we’ll credit Ben McLemore for hitting 10 of his 16 shots for 27 points instead. These things happen sometimes. But with Jefferson presumably missing Friday’s matchup, and Zeller now confirmed out with a sprained shoulder, Charlotte will be without two of its three best defenders.
Good thing the third guy is also a center. Bismack Biyombo (15.4 PER, plus-2.2 DBPM) has stepped up numerous times already this year, making 13 starts in relief, and Biyombo is a plus-4.7 in those starts. The Hornets went 9-4 SU and 7-6 ATS with Biyombo manning the middle. But he had either Jefferson or Zeller beside him in 12 of those games. On Friday, we’ll probably see a lot of Jason Maxiell (10.4 PER) instead.
Limpin’ Ain’t Easy
At least there’s a chance the Hornets won’t have to deal with Joakim Noah (15.6 PER). He ended up missing Wednesday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers, and it nearly got us paid, too, before the Bulls (40-26 SU, 30-36 ATS) extended the game to overtime and won 104-95 as 6.5-point road faves. Phooey. Noah is expected to play Friday, though.
That result snapped a three-game SU and ATS losing streak for Chicago, but we still like the logic behind our basketball pick. The Bulls are having a devil of a time beating teams without both Derrick Rose (16.0 PER) and Jimmy Butler (21.3 PER) in the lineup. Rose might have a minus-1.3 BPM for Chicago this year, but he and Butler (plus-4.7 BPM) combine for 40 points every 36 minutes.
Let’s not forget about Taj Gibson (15.9 PER), either. He’s missed the past seven games with a bruised ankle, and while Gibson’s travelling with the team now, he’s still in pain and doesn’t appear likely to play Friday. Gibson (plus-0.9 DBPM) and little-used veteran Nazr Mohammed (8.2 PER, plus-0.4 DBPM) are the only plus defenders on Chicago’s bench. We might not get to see Mohammed play against Charlotte if Noah suits up, but given how beaten up Noah is, the Hornets could skate by anyway, despite their own injuries.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Hornets at BetOnline