Pacers Are The NBA Pick As Road Underdogs vs. Bulls In Chicago

LT Profits Sports Group

Wednesday, December 30, 2015 8:05 PM GMT

Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015 8:05 PM GMT

The two teams chasing the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Central Division meet up in Chicago, and the Indiana Pacers could hold value as road underdogs vs. the Bulls on Wednesday.

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NBA Pick: Pacers +3.5

Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

 

The road underdogs could hold value in a matchup of two teams jockeying for position in the Central Division of the NBA behind the first-place Cavaliers when those Indiana Pacers (18-12, 17-13 ATS) pay a visit to the Chicago Bulls (17-12, 11-18 ATS) at the United Center in Chicago, IL at 8:00 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPN2.

 

The point spread at Pinnacle has Indiana as a moderate road underdog for this contest with the current line at +3½ with NBA odds of -102.

 

Pacers Trying to Get Back Where They Were
The Pacers were one of the elite teams in the Eastern Conference for several years before last season, when they were decimated by injuries and a late playoff charge then came up short. They are looking to return to that level this season, albeit with different personnel, and they have overtaken the Bulls for second place in the Central Division by one-half game by being winning NBA Picks the last two games with suffocating defense, allowing 87 and 88 points respectively.

The Bulls may be 17-12 straight up, but they have burned quite a bit of money this season going just 11-18 ATS including going 0-2 ATS vs. the Pacers, losing outright at Indiana and failing to cover in a narrow 96-95 victory here in Chicago on November 16th. The Bulls do come off of a 104-97 win over the Toronto Raptors here on Monday, but that still leaves Chicago just 6-11 ATS at the United Center.

 

Scoring More and Still Playing Defense
When the Pacers made it a habit of going to the Eastern Conference Finals every year before what they hope was an anomaly last season, they did it by playing such great defense that it usually overcame an archaic offense. Indiana has changed it philosophy this year though, letting defensive stalwarts Roy Hibbert and David West walk in free agency, adding a scorer in Monta Ellis and going small by moving leading scorer Paul George to the power forward spot.

The result has been 102.4 points per game, and that improved offense has led to a good 17-13 ATS mark, which is in stark contrast to the Bulls’ losing ATS record despite these teams have similar straight up records while separated by one-half game in the standings.

The best part for Indiana though is that it has picked up both its scoring and its pace without really sacrificing all that much defensively, as the Pacers are sixth in the NBA in points against allowing just 98.3 per game while their 102.4 points for simultaneously has them eighth in the league in scoring. That could make the Pacers a very dangerous team in the post-season and one that we feel is still currently flying a bit under the radar on a national scale.

 

Chicago Not As Good Defensively
In recent years, we have become accustomed to Chicago being the team playing suffocating defense on a nightly basis under former coach Tom Thibodeau, but like the Pacers, the Bulls have taken on more of an offensive identity under new coach Fred Hoiberg. The Bulls are averaging 101.0 points per game, and while that is only 17th in the NBA, remember that this is a team that was dead last in the league in scoring just two short years ago.

The difference between these teams though is that the Bulls have improved their offense at the expense of the defense, and that could be why they have been so inconsistent this season. Remember that Chicago led the NBA in scoring defense two years ago while simultaneously being last in scoring offense, but the Bulls are allowing an even 100.0 points per game this season.

Furthermore, that Chicago defense has taken another step back in recent games allowing an unacceptable average of 104.6 points over the last five games. Considering that the Pacers have held their last two opponents to below 90 points, the Bulls could be in trouble tonight if their rather lax defense as of late continues.

 

Trouble Piecing Good Games Together
Finally, another reason that the Bulls have a losing ATS record is that they have not been consistent in backing up good efforts, going a dismal 1-10 ATS in their last 11 games following an ATS win and 3-12 ATS in their last 15 games following a straight up win! Also, the Pacers have dominated this head-to-head series betting wise going 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings.

We expect those patterns to continue as Indiana continues to try and re-establish itself as one of the elite teams in the Eastern Conference by opening a bit of separation from he Bulls with a big road win in Chicago on Wednesday.

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