They might not meet in the Eastern Conference Finals now that Derrick Rose is out again, but the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls are still worth a gander on the NBA betting lines.
Jason’s record on his final NBA picks for 2013, up to December 3 inclusive:
Turns out the Miami Heat (14-4 SU, 9-9 ATS) are capable of losing a basketball game. The defending two-time NBA champions fell 107-97 to the Detroit Pistons (+9 at home) on Tuesday; down by 14 points at the start of the fourth quarter, and playing without Dwyane Wade (sore knee), Miami marched all the way back to within three before giving up the ghost. That’s back-to-back ATS losses for the Heat after a tasty 6-1 run.
Wade will presumably be back in action after his maintenance day, with the Heat taking on the Chicago Bulls (7-9 SU, 6-10 ATS) Thursday night at the United Center. Chicago, of course, it without former league MVP Derrick Rose (knee) for the rest of the season; SF Jimmy Butler (turf toe) is also weeks away from returning to action, and the Bulls have dropped six of their last seven games at 2-5 ATS. Chicago is getting 4.5 points on the early NBA odds for the back end of this week’s TNT doubleheader, tipping off at 9:30 p.m. ET.
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There will be days when Wade (20.9 PER) needs to rest his knees, but he’s not the only one who’s feeling a bit worn down. LeBron James (29.8 PER) is playing at less than 100 percent with a sore back and various other ailments; it’s gotten bad enough that James is laying on the floor, Steve Nash-style, when he’s subbed out of games. LBJ’s 17.3 Game Score against the Pistons (including a season-high six turnovers) was one of his lowest of the season.
That’s not the end of Miami’s collective malaise. PG Mario Chalmers (14.8 PER) has a sore hip, and SF Shane Battier (9.4 PER) is coming off a recent illness, so it’s understandable if the Heat have been running a bit sub-par lately. This might be a good spot to start fading the World Champions until they show signs of recovery versus the basketball lines.
The Bulls don’t want to hear about your little bumps and bruises. The air seems to have gone out of their tires since the Rose injury; last year, they had Nate Robinson (17.4 PER) to help pick up the slack, but this year, it’s all on 32-year-old Kirk Hinrich (10.5 PER) to log heavy minutes at point guard – including over 53 minutes in Monday’s 131-128 triple-overtime loss to the New Orleans Pelicans (+7 away). Good thing Chicago got that extra day off.
Things are so bad at the 1-spot that the Bulls had to reverse course on their plans to send Marquis Teague (minus-8.1 PER) to the D-League. That’s because veteran back-up Mike James (minus-3.7 PER) has been playing through a knee injury of his own, and is now listed as day-to-day. Any way you slice it, the Bulls are in big trouble with Miami coming to town fully loaded.
Rashard Lewis Can’t Lose
I’ve said plenty about the great work that forward Michael Beasley (22.0 PER) has done off the bench for Miami this year. Now it’s time to give some props to Rashard Lewis (10.5 PER). Actually, I might be a little late, since Lewis has tapered off over the last couple of weeks. But Lewis is in much better physical shape than he was in recent years, and the former two-time All-Star has even made Udonis Haslem (6.1 PER) an afterthought in the Miami rotation.
The Bulls aren’t the kind of team to wilfully roll over on national television, but in a battle of two gimpy teams, it’s like they’re bringing a knife to a gunfight. That’s not the Chicago Way.
NBA Pick: Take the Heat –4 (–103) at Marathon