The Chicago Bulls could be without their top player when they begin a brief two-game road trip tonight in Orlando. How will the uncertainty of Derrick Rose's status shape how we chose to place our NBA picks tonight?

NBA odds makers had opened the lines with the Bulls listed as small one point favorites with a total of 184. Early NBA betting action has left the total unchanged up to this point in time, but the spread has increased to 1.5.

Lets breakdown this matchup and decide where we should place our NBA picks tonight to get the best bang for our buck.

Derrick RoseDerek Rose, who has missed a number of game due to a plethora of ailments, is out again (sprained groin). The reigning NBA MVP missed his third game Saturday night although the Bulls escaped with an 89-80 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. C.J. Watson, starting for Rose, scored 20 points and Joakim Noah added 13 points and 11 rebounds.

It was the 13th contest this season that Rose has missed. The Bulls are 9-4 without him, including a 106-102 victory over Miami on Wednesday night and a 100-89 loss to the Trail Blazers on Friday night. Rose has also been limited by back and toe problems this season, too.

The Bulls (37-10 SU, 29-16-2 ATS) have been non-committal about his availability for tonight hinting that it could be a game time decision. In the games that Rose has missed, Chicago is 7-6 ATS.

Magic lose showdown

Orlando (29-17 SU, 25-21 ATS) is coming off a 91-81 loss to the Heat. It was Miami’s 13th straight home victory and evened the season series at two wins apiece. The win kept Miami (33-11) one game in the loss column behind Chicago for the NBA’s best record and top Eastern Conference seed.

Dwight Howard finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds for Orlando .Quentin Richardson was 5 for 7 on 3-pointers for a 15-point night for the Magic, who split four games with Miami this season, both teams going 2-0 at home

In Orlando’s two wins over Miami this season, Howard averaged 24.5 points and 24.5 rebounds. In the two Heat wins, Howard averaged `only’ 15 points and 13 rebounds

The Howard circus

Bulls vs. MagicIt’s was a crazy week for Howard—and annoying for just about everyone else who follows the NBA. The Orlando big man was back and forth, up and down and all around regarding his decision to stay or go. After Tuesday’s 104-98 win over Miami, a game in which he had 25 points and 24, he announced that he would take back his preseason trade request and remain with the team through this season.

Howard made an even bigger commitment when he chose to waive the early termination clause in his contract just before Thursday’s trade deadline, meaning he would stay in Orlando at least until his deal ends in 2013. We’re happy for him but happier for us who want have to hear about the Dwight saga until this time next year.

Trends

Orlando is 8-0 ATS in its last eight games against the Central Division while Chicago is 7-2 vs. the number in its last nine road games.

The ‘under’ has been the financially prudent O/U play. The ‘under’ is 8-1 in the last nine series meetings in Orlando and 8-3-1 in Chicago’s past 12 games against the Southeast Division.

The Bulls are a blistering 18-6 SU on the road (16-8 ATS) and 15-9 to over. The Magic is 16-7 SU at home (13-10 ATS) and 11-10-2 to the over.

Harvey’s Take: At some point the lucks going to run out on the Bulls who have been getting by without Rose. That could be tonight against a hot Magic team playing at home. The better play I believe is the ‘under’.

Good luck!