Take the Bulls as Your NBA Pick vs. Cavaliers

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, February 12, 2015 8:06 PM GMT

Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay side that has a better chance of cashing than its spread, offering long term value. Here is their Side Value Play for Thursday.

 



In the final game before the NBA All-Star break, the home underdogs could have value Thursday night in a battle of the top two teams in the Central Division when the Cleveland Cavaliers (33-21, 12-12 away) pay a visit to the Chicago Bulls (33-20, 14-11 home) at the United Center in Chicago, IL at 8:06 ET in a game televised nationally on TNT.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Chicago as a modest home underdog for this contest with the current line at +2 with odds of -101.


Cavaliers Hot, Bulls Still Lead Division
The Cavaliers have been on fire ever since LeBron James returned from a two-week absence at Phoenix on January 13th, as after losing his first game back despite James regaining his old form, Cleveland has since been the winning NBA pick in 14 of its last 15 games after beating James’s old team the Miami Heat handily 113-93 back home in Quicken Loans Arena on Wednesday.

As hot as the Cavaliers have been, the Bulls still maintain their Central Division lead by one-half game over Cleveland after winning their third straight game 104-86 over the Sacramento Kings here at home on Tuesday. They also have the benefit of a day off yesterday while the Cavs are on a back-to-back. Despite leading the division, Chicago has lost the first two meetings with Cleveland this season, which is something the Bulls hope to rectify here.


High Octane Chicago Offense?
This is not the same type of Bulls team as the one that relied solely on its defense to win games the first three years under Coach Tom Thibodeau, as Chicago has gone from ranking dead last in the NBA in scoring last season with 93.7 points per game to ranking 10th this year with 102.0 points per contest. Furthermore that scoring average inches up to 103.6 points here at the United Center, where the Bulls have been playing at a faster tempo than fans were used to previously.

Yes the return of Derrick Rose has helped and he is second on the team in scoring with 18.7 points, just ahead of another vital addition to the offense this season in Pau Gasol with his 18.4 points. The real revelation though has been the development of Jimmy Butler into the team’s leading scorer with 20.4 points per contest. Unfortunately the first-time All-Star will miss this contest though with a shoulder strain.

However, the Bulls to have competent replacements for him as veteran Mike Dunleavy just returned from a 19-game absence Tuesday and he is shooting 41.5 percent from beyond the three-point arc this year. Also, young Tony Snell received most of the minutes after Butler got injured vs. the Kings and he responded with 24 points.


Cleveland Success Has Come at Home
Now, the Cavaliers have certainly been hot, but it must be stated that they have had a favorable home vs. away split, playing only six road games since James returned. Yes they are undefeated in their home games since then but they are a nondescript 3-3 ATS on the road and their only straight up loss in the last 15 games came the last time they hit the road 103-99 vs. a depleted Pacers team in Indiana last Friday.

Also, the Cleveland defense has not exactly been suffocating this year, which could be an issue vs. the newfound success of the Bulls’ offense, especially in Chicago. Granted the Cavaliers are in the top half of the league in points against at 99.1 per game, but they are only 21st in field goal percentage allowed at 45.7 percent and 22nd in defensive efficiency. Furthermore, Cleveland is allowing 101.1 points per game on a distressing 47.2 percent shooting on the road.


Getting Up for Good Teams
Finally, while the Bulls have been prone to letdowns vs. some of the lesser teams in the league, they usually get up for the better teams going 5-1 ATS in their last six games vs. teams with winning records.

Look for that to be the case again tonight as the Bulls conclude the first half of the season with a mild upset of the Cavaliers at home in Chicago on Thursday.

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NBA Pick: Bulls +2 (-101)