Tonight the Indians Pacers, coming off of a 13 point victory over Dallas, host the Chicago Bulls. While the Pacers are looking tight, sportsbooks might have the Bulls underrated.
The Chicago Bulls (25-13) are the far superior team in this matchup versus the Indiana Pacers (16-20). The Bookmakers aren't giving the Bulls enough credit for the great season that they've had. Indiana has three things going for them. They've won their last 2 games, the Bulls lost their last game, and it's a home game for the Indiana Pacers. The Bulls are 8-10 on the road and the Pacers are 10-9 at home.
The Bulls Have Played Poorly on the Road
The Bulls have 3 consecutive road losses to sub .500 teams. Could this be number 4? After this game, the Bulls will be able to play at the United Center for 7 consecutive games where they hold a record of 17-3. They definitely want to end this road skid against lesser teams. I think that they're going to come out strong in this game against a confident Indiana team. Saying that, the Bulls forced a season low 7 turnover performance versus the Bobcats. They're going to have to do a lot better than that to beat the Pacers.
The Bulls have allowed an average of 27.1 first quarter points in January and it's been difficult for them to play catch up. A team never wants to play catch up, even against inferior teams. This has only been a January issue and I expect them to get out of this mode. When you have players like Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer, and Luol Deng on your team, you have a solid group of players that can score at a high rate but occasionally teams get into slumps. The offensive firepower is there. Three players score 17.9 points per game or better and two of the players are 20 plus point per game scorers. Although the slow starts have hampered the Bulls, their roster is too good for it to continue for an extended period of time.
The Pacers Have Picked Up the Pace
Granted, their 102-89 victory versus Dallas was without Dirk Nowitzki but Dallas is still a great team. The Pacers were mostly mistake free, committing only 7 turnovers. Brandon Rush led the team with 20 points and Darren Collison and Danny Granger each pitched in with 17 points. Previously, the Pacers beat the Philadelphia 76ers 111-103. These wins aren't mindblowing but they're getting on the right track, scoring over 100 points in both games. Before the last 2 games, the Pacers had been ineffective offensively. They scored under 100 points in 9 consecutive games. The 2 wins are something to build on but I don't see anything special about this team, they're going to have a tough time with Chicago.
Can Derrick Rose Be Contained?
The Pacers have played well defensively but the Bulls leading scorer is playing some great basketball. Rose averages 24.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 8.1 assists per game. He's not only a player that can score but he can get Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng involved even more .This is as solid a trio of players as it get's .All of these men are very skilled offensively, Boozer provides the strength, Deng provides the hustle, and Rose provides the leadership. Rose has had some good outings previous to his last game . He's had 29,36, ,and 27 point outings in his last 4 games and the 36 points was against the Boston Celtics. Look for Rose to control this game.
Chicago will be missing it's leading rebounder Joakim Noah (11.7). Indiana's 7 foot 2 center Roy Hibbert has had a good season, averaging 13 points and 8.1 rebounds per game but he hasn't played well as of late and this is a game that the Pacers need some production from him, with Noah being injured.
Outcome of the Game
I see this being a close game. Indiana has gotten a little confidence booster, beating the Dallas Mavericks and the 76ers away from home. The offense has picked up a bit and it will need to because Chicago only gives up 93.6 points per game. Having Noah out of the game will hurt the Bulls on the defensive end but I think that this is a good spot for Derrick Rose to take over. The Bulls have played poorly and great teams need to win on the road. This is a statement game. The Bulls have the better team and I think that they'll overcome the hostile Indiana environment. The game will be close but the Bulls will pull this one out and cover the spread.
Free NBA Betting Pick- Chicago -1