Chicago Bulls +5.5 (13-17) at New Jersey Nets -5.5 (15-15) O/U 209.5 7:30 PM ET Monday December 29, 2008
By Jason Green at Predcitem.com
Tonight the Chicago Bulls travel to the Garden State to play the New Jersey Nets. Both these teams will be fighting to make the playoffs this season, but neither is really making a push as of late, as both are 4-6 in their last 10 games. Derrick Rose is still the front-runner for the Rookie of the Year, but he has cooled off after a hot start. The Nets are in 2nd place in the Atlantic Division, but trail the Celtics by 12 games, while the Bulls are in 4th place in the Central Division 13 games behind the 1st place Cavaliers. This game features 2 of the better rookies this year in Rose and the Nets Brook Lopez.
This season the Bulls are a horrible road team, as they are only 3-14 away from the Windy City, but they will be playing a Nets team that is better on the road then at home being only 5-11 in home games this season.
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Basketball bookies have the Nets as 5.5 point favorites with a total around 209.5. The Nets are posted at -240 as home favorites and the Bulls are posted at +190 as away dogs.
The Bulls come into this game after losing the Atlanta Hawks 129-117 on Saturday night. The high scorer for the Bulls in that game was Ben Gordon going for 33 points on 10/22 shooting. For the game the Bulls shot 43/79 for a scorching FG% of 54.4%. The Bulls played poor defense for the game allowing the Hawks to shoot 49-88 from the field for a FG% of 55.7%.
The Nets come into this game after beating the Charlotte Bobcats 114-103 in OT on Saturday night. The high scorer for the Nets in that game was Vince Carter going for 28 points on 8/12 shooting including going 10/12 from the charity stripe. For the game the Nets shot 38/78 from the field for a FG% of 48.7%. On defense the Nets allowed the Bobcats to shoot 38/79 for a FG% of 48.1%.
These teams are pretty even in the scoring department, as the Nets rank 10th (100.9 ppg) and the Bulls rank 11th 100.2 ppg). The reason that neither of these teams is above .500 is their poor D, as both teams rank 25th in points allowed (103.1). The Nets are a better rebounding team, they have a positive rebounding differential, while the Bulls are at -1.4 rpg.
On the injury front PF Drew Gooden is out and SFs Luol Deng and Andres Nocioni are day-to-day for the Bulls, while the Nets are not reporting any significant injuries.
For the season the Bulls are 14-16 ATS and the Nets are 16-14. In terms of Over/Under games the Bulls are 17-13 and the Nets are 16-15.
The Nets have owned the Bulls recently at home, as they have won 14 straight games against Chicago in New Jersey.
The key to this game may be the health of the Bulls and their forwards. The Bulls are not strong to begin with inside and it does not help that Luol Deng, Andres Nicioni, and Drew Gooden are all banged up. Deng and Gooden may play, but it will be a game-time decision. If they cannot go or are limited, Brook Lopez may have a big game for the Nets. Lopez (9.9 ppg 7.8 rpg) has had a solid rookie campaign for the Nets. The Bulls will have to have a solid game defensively inside against Lopez and fellow 7 footer Yi Jianlian (9.9 ppg 6 rpg).
The Nets also match up well on the perimeter with Devin Harris (23.7 ppg) and Vince Carter (23 ppg) matching up against Rose (17.5 ppg) and Ben Gordon (21 ppg). Both of these tandems can score, but are not good at playing defense. The thing is if Carter and Harris break down the perimeter D and attack the rim there are no defensive stoppers down low for the Bulls, where as the Nets have Lopez (2 blocks per game).
For the Bulls to pull off the upset they will have to shoot the rock well and play some good defense in side. They will also have to hit the glass and not give the Nets 2nd chances.
This should be a great game for the Nets, as they match up extremely well against the Bulls.
Jason’s Pick: I’m sold on the Nets tonight.