Depending on which sportsbook you're checking out, L.A. is either favored by 5 or 5.5 points. The home team in the head-to-head series is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings, but the Bulls have actually covered in four of their last five matchups with the Lakers.
An O/U of 195 on the NBA odds boards is likely to attract mostly UNDER action, considering Chicago has been excellent defensively despite their countless health problems.
Robinson, Belinelli, Deng, Boozer, Noah
As you can see, Chicago's rolling with a makeshift starting five at the moment, though it's not like that's anything new. The Bulls haven't had the services of Derrick Rose all season long and there have been extended absences for Kirk Hinrich, Rip Hamilton and now Taj Gibson too.
Nonetheless, Chicago was able to hold off Utah for a narrow 89-88 win on Friday night.
Only seven players logged significant minutes for the Bulls, with Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng and Marco Bellinelli all on the court for 40+. Boozer had 22 points and 10 rebounds, while Belinelli went for 22 points, four boards and three assists. Nate Robinson (14/7/6) and Joakim Noah (nine points and 13 rebounds) were also productive.
For a team that's been struggling to string together wins, it was a huge sigh of relief to get a W at home. The Bulls are now 3-2 SU and ATS over their last five, but are a shaky 4-5 SU and ATS in their past nine.
The road, however, has actually been more kind to Chicago than has the United Center. The Bulls have covered the spread in five of their last seven contests outside of the Windy City and are 18-12 ATS on the road overall, as opposed to 9-23 ATS at home.
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Los Angeles Lakers
Nash, Bryant, World Peace, Clark, Howard
The Black Mamba did it again, single-handedly putting the Lakers on his back in another come-from-behind win on Friday.
In the 118-116 overtime victory over Toronto, Kobe drilled a three to force overtime and then drove to the lane and scored the go-ahead basket on a dunk in the extra period. When it was all said and done, he had racked up 42 points on 11-of-22 shooting (5-of-10 from three, 14-of-16 from the line) while handing out 12 assists and grabbing rebounds.
Now, Kobe could stand to be a little more careful with the ball – he did have nine turnovers in the win – but what he's doing right now is truly amazing. He's willing the Lakers to these wins as of late, just when they need them the most.
L.A. has now won four of five and seven of nine heading into this afternoon's home tilt at the Staples Center. In terms of ATS performance, it's been a struggle for the Lakers on their own court though, as they're just 2-6 ATS over their last eight there.
That said, we've learned you can never count out L.A. these days, not with the way Kobe has been performing.
In spite of the fact the Bulls are missing four key guys, we have a sneaking suspicion they'll stay toe-to-toe with the Lakers and cover as dogs.
Robinson has shown he can fill in for Hinrich, at least on the offensive end, and could very well abuse Steve Nash with his quickness, Jimmy Butler has become an invaluable part of the rotation this season, and Belinelli has been on fire over the last week, averaging 21.0 PPG over his last three games.
Throw in Noah's unmatched energy on both ends of the court and Deng's terrific defensive efforts night in and night out, and we think Chicago will keep things close against a Lakers team that still may be a little overvalued by oddsmakers. L.A. is winning games, yes, but it's been coming against mediocre opposition and they're needing ridiculous come-backs to do so.
With that said, we're taking the points and backing the Bulls for this NBA pick.
NBA Picks: Chicago Bulls +5.5 at 5dimes