The Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls used to compete for Eastern Conference championships. How will these two teams deal with tough Thursday night opponents? Time for some NBA picks.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Miami Heat
The Miami Heat are used to having Dwyane Wade physically struggle through an NBA season. The obvious difference this season is that there’s no LeBron James to carry the load when Wade is out, missing roughly one third of the season with various bumps and bruises, all in the attempt to be fresh and ready for the playoffs in the spring. The Heat beat the Brooklyn Nets on Monday without Dwyane Wade, but the Nets are in the middle of a downward spiral. The Los Angeles Clippers just smashed the Orlando Magic on the road and should be ready to play at a fairly high level against the Heat. This is a season of great, almost immeasurable, significance for the Clippers, given that they’ve never even made the conference finals round in their entire history.
What will worry the Clippers going into this game is that they’re next to last in the NBA in rebounds per game, and 22nd in points allowed per game. What will comfort the Clippers is that Miami lacks a post player who can dominate on the glass. The Heat are the one team in the NBA that’s worse at rebounding than the Clippers. The Heat are better on defense, rated seventh in the league, but they’re 21st on offense, whereas Los Angeles is 13th. With Wade and Luol Deng both unlikely to play, the better choice for your NBA picks is the healthier Clippers.
NBA Pick: Clippers at 5Dimes
Chicago Bulls vs. Sacramento Kings
Injury questions circle around the Bulls right now, and you should take that into consideration when looking at the NBA odds. Derrick Rose is, as you know, a constant question mark in terms of his fitness for play. He’s 50-50 for this game. What you might not have known from previous days is that big man Pau Gasol has also been listed as questionable for this game by the Bulls. It’s one thing for Rose to be out, because the Bulls know very well that they can play without him. They’re used to it. However, Gasol not playing this game alongside Rose would rob Chicago of a key inside force, and if the Bulls lack something in the paint and on the perimeter at the same time, Sacramento should be able to find a way through the Bulls’ defense. Sacramento’s tandem of Rudy Gay (21.8 points per game) and DeMarcus Cousins (22.5 points per game) has the Kings at 11th in the NBA in scoring offense. Cousins, who averages 11.6 boards per game, has enabled the Kings to be the second-best rebounding team in the league. If Gasol is not there in the paint to check Cousins, Sacramento will gain too much of an edge. In light of the uncertainty surrounding the Bulls, take the Kings at this point.
NBA Pick: Sacramento at BetOnline