The Bulls are 6-point favorites on NBA odds tonight in Orlando at the end of an inconsistent six-game road trip. Will Chicago be able to return home with some momentum?
Trip Home Near for Bulls
I'd say a return home would be welcome for Chicago, but the Bulls have struggled there this season. They also were struggling entering Saturday night's game in New Orleans. It's almost as if a huge overtime win in Golden State last Tuesday, ending the Warriors' franchise-record 19-game home winning streak, took everything out of the team. Chicago followed that with an overtime loss at the Lakers (that shouldn't happen, even in a letdown game), at Phoenix and at Houston (those are understandable). The Bulls simply can't seem to get things together, and don't be surprised if Coach Tom Thibodeau is elsewhere next year. He's supposedly a defensive genius, yet the Bulls have given up 100 or more points in 25 games this season. Last season, they gave up 100 or more in 16 games. Chicago is 22-28 against the NBA betting spread entering Saturday's game and 25-24-1 'over/under.'
Next Magic Coach?
Some teams often play much better after a coach gets fired, and that appears to be the case for now with the Magic. The team fired Jacque Vaughn on Thursday -- really he was in a no-win situation -- and then Orlando ended a 10-game losing streak on Friday with a 103-97 overtime win against the Lakers. Tobias Harris led Orlando with a career-high 34 points, while Nik Vucevic had 25 points and 13 rebounds. The Magic had allowed their previous 14 opponents to score at least 100 points.
Former Vaughn assistant James Borrego is serving at the team's interim coach for now and there's no point in hiring a permanent guy until the end of the season. The name you most hear for the opening is former Bulls coach and Magic player Scott Skiles. One name you surprisingly don't hear is George Karl, but apparently now we know why. He is reportedly close to taking over the Kings job. Sacramento was the first club to fire its head coach this season, Mike Malone. That turned out to be a disaster. Orlando has some nice young talent and will get another high draft pick. It would be a good job. Plus there's the whole no income tax thing in Florida.
The Magic are 28-25 against the spread this season (just 8-15 at home) and 26-26-1 'over/under' on NBA odds .
The teams have split two meetings in the Windy City. The first was back on Nov. 4 and the Bulls were 10-point favorites on NBA odds but failed to cover in a 98-90 victory. The game was tied after three quarters, but the Bulls pulled away in the final minutes. Chicago was led by 21 points from Jimmy Butler and 16 points and 13 board from Pau Gasol. Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah both missed the game. Harris scored 21 points and Vucevic had 19 points and 13 rebounds for Orlando. In the most recent matchup on Jan. 12, the Bulls were 11.5-point favorites at sportsbooks and had one of those weird losses to a bad team that have plagued them at home often this year: 121-114. The Magic, not exactly an offensive powerhouse, shot a season 59.3 percent from the field and scored their most points of the year. Vucevic dominated with 33 points and 11 rebounds, while Victor Oladipo also had 33 points. The Bulls were full strength for that one, other than Mike Dunleavy, while the Magic were missing Harris, one of their best players (and second-leading scorer), along with Evan Fournier and rookie Aaron Gordon. This is the first matchup in Orlando this season, where the Bulls have won seven straight which you should consider when making your NBA picks.
NBA Free Picks: Orlando +6 on NBA odds and 'over' 203.5 points. Chicago is 1-8 ATS in its past nine vs. teams with a losing record. Orlando is 15-6 ATS in its past 21 vs. teams with a winning record. The 'over' is 7-0 in Orlando's past seven vs. the East.