Chicago Bulls (7-7 SU, 6-8 ATS)
The effects of losing star point guard Derrick Rose will reverberate until next season or whenever he returns to the lineup after yet another devastating injury. But the consequences were immediate in Chicago's first game, sans Rose, when the Clippers dismantled the downtrodden Bulls 121-82.
Attempting to shake off their blistering loss, the Bulls thought they would have a "gimme" against the NBA's worst, the Utah Jazz. But that was not to be as the Jazz showed up while the Bulls stumbled offensively yet held Utah to under 39% shooting. It was a woeful offensive performance on both sides but Utah ultimately triumphed 89-83 in overtime.
Fast forward to their latest excursion on the hardwood as Chicago shook of their Rose colored blues and blasted the Pistons in Motown as 3 ½ point underdogs in NBA odds and walked out with a dominating 99-79 victory. The Bulls trailed 53-51 at the half but put the hooks on Detroit and allowed only 26 second-half points and just 11 in the fourth quarter. Veteran Luol Deng led the Bulls with 27 points while swingman Taj Gibson dropped a career-high 23 points to preserve the win.
Cleveland Cavaliers (4-12 SU, 6-10 ATS)
The Cavs have lost their last five games straight up and covered in only one of those losses in NBA odds. Their latest setback was at the hands of the Boston Celtics last night as they continue to struggle hitting their shots. Case in point, last night they shot only 37% and scored a paltry 10 points in the first-quarter. Kyrie Irving is emblematic of the team's offensive woes as he has been snake bitten, hitting just 7-of-16 and turning the ball over four times. Irving is an atrocious 1-for-16 from three-point land over his last four games.
If you look up and down the Cavaliers roster you will find that collectively they don't do much of anything very well. They are 27th in scoring, 23rd in points allowed, 18th in rebounds per game and 28th in assists. There's not a whole lot of team in Cleveland's game this season. Factor in that the big man Andrew Bynum is being nurtured delicately and averaging only 16 minutes a game while scoring slightly less than seven points per contest. This will be the status quo throughout this season or until he and the medical staff are certain he has fully recovered from the knee injuries that sidelined him last season are fully healed.
The Bulls have won and covered the number in their last four trips to the Quicken Loans Arena. Their last tango in Cleveland was in December of last year when they came away with a 95-85 victory and covered as 3 ½ point road chalk. Before that they sent Cavs fans home early with a 115-86 throttling of their hosts.
This time around we have a Bulls squad without Rose but his absence didn't seem to hurt the Bulls last season when he was injured so I'm not sure how his absence would preclude someone from backing the Bulls in this spot. But let's face it, when given enough of a head start from the oddsmakers, even a bad team can look quite attractive. It's called putting lipstick on a pig and sometimes it can be hard to resist, just like the ugly chick at last call when everyone looks kinda purty.
But I'm not getting that vibe from Cleveland here. I'm just too damn sober to be lulled into romance with a team that looks as bad Cleveland and had to battle last night in Boston. I'll stick with a mediocre Bulls team for my NBA picks to get it done over a woeful and hopefully exhausted Cavs squad.