The Chicago Bulls haven’t done very well against the Portland Trail Blazers the past few years. They also can’t seem to beat the NBA odds at home this season. Will Portland pay off again on Friday night?
Jason’s record as of Dec. 10: 15-14-1 ATS, 1-3 Totals
Bless our stars, the NBA odds are out for Friday’s games, and the Chicago Bulls are on the list. They’ve opened as 2-point home favorites for their prime-time matchup (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN) with the Portland Trail Blazers. What about all those day-to-day Chicago injuries that usually mess up the betting lines? No sweat: Joakim Noah has already been ruled out, and Derrick Rose says he’s healthy and hale. Maybe the Worldwide Leader had something to do with it, too.
Now all the Bulls (13-8 SU, 9-12 ATS) need to do is figure out how to beat these Western upstarts. Portland (17-5 SU, 12-9-1 ATS) has won each of its last seven games against Chicago at 6-1 ATS, stretching back to early 2011. That includes their only meeting of the new season thus far, a 105-87 laugher that saw the Blazers cash in as 8-point home faves. Rose wasn’t there for Chicago, but Noah was. Can we expect more of the same on Friday?
I Feel Good
Of course, a lot of it depends on how healthy Rose (17.0 PER) actually is. As we mentioned in our last look at the Bulls, Rose’s production level has plummeted significantly since he came back from his hamstring injury. But Rose looked dramatically better in Wednesday’s 105-80 victory over the Brooklyn Nets. The former league MVP drained 23 points in just 24 minutes against the short-handed Nets.
Some of the credit for Rose’s revival goes to head coach Tom Thibodeau. He reportedly instructed Rose to attack the basket more often instead of settling for 3-pointers, which are not his forte (31.2 percent). After shredding the Nets, Rose told reporters to be patient, that his game was coming around. “Just give me a little minute,” he said. We’ll read that to mean he’s not quite back at full speed.
Let’s see how you handle this assignment, Mr. Rose. The Blazers aren’t nearly as hard up for talent as the Nets these days, especially in the paint, where Noah will be absent for the Bulls on Friday. But are we already on the other side of peak Portland? Wednesday’s 90-82 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves (+10 at home) snapped a five-game winning streak; more tellingly, it leaves the Blazers at 1-5-1 ATS in their last seven games, after a dominating November run at 9-0 SU and 7-2 ATS.
Perhaps this is a simple case of market correction. Going into Thursday’s action, Portland was sixth in the Western Conference and eighth overall with a plus-5.83 SRS, which seems pretty low for a 17-5 team (.773). Let’s take a gander at some of last year’s numbers from Basketball Reference:
San Antonio Spurs: 62-20 (.756), plus-8.00 SRS
Los Angeles Clippers: 57-25 (.695), plus-7.27 SRS
Oklahoma City Thunder: 59-23 (.720), plus-6.66 SRS
Golden State Warriors: 51-31 (.622), plus-5.15 SRS
Houston Rockets: 54-28 (.659), plus-5.06 SRS
Portland Trail Blazers: 54-28 (.659), plus-4.44 SRS
Interesting. Nobody would accuse the Trail Blazers of being as good a team as last year’s defending champions. These numbers bear that out. We can probably expect Portland’s record to regress back toward the mean – or for the SRS numbers to skyrocket to match that gaudy win record. We’ll take the former option. The Blazers have only played seven games against winning teams this year, compared to 14 games against losing teams.
Having said that, Portland is 5-2 ATS against those winning teams. Chicago, on the other hand, is 2-6 ATS against teams above .500. The Bulls are also 2-6 ATS at home this year. We’ll take the Blazers in this one, but we’re also putting them on notice.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Trail Blazers +2 at BetOnline