Denver Nuggets vs. Chicago Bulls Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Denver Nuggets (5-2 SU, 4-3 ATS) vs. Chicago Bulls (4-2 SU, 2-4 ATS), 8:00 p.m. EST, Tuesday, November 10, 2009, United Center, Chicago, Ill.
by Ryno of Predictem.com

Point Spread: Nuggets -2/Bulls +2
Over/Under: 200.5

Bet on this game at an online sportsbook that offers the most NBA props on the net: 5Dimes.

It’s early in the season, but two first place teams face off as the Chicago Bulls host the Denver Nuggets. The Bulls lead the Central Division by a half-game over the Bucks and Cavaliers, while the Nuggets lead the Northwest Division by a game over the Trail Blazers.

The Nuggets started off 5-0 but have since lost two straight on the road at Miami and Atlanta. The game in Atlanta on Saturday was not an impressive performance by the Nuggets. They lost by 25 points, but that could be attributed to playing their fourth straight road games in five days. The Nuggets have had two days off since then, but they still will be playing their fifth straight road game in a week span.

The Nuggets lost the game to the Hawks down low. Josh Smith had 22 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, while Al Horford had 11 points and 12 rebounds. The Hawks outrebounded the Nuggets, 44-36. Denver was without an injured Kenyon Martin. Nene had 12 points and seven rebounds, and starting forwards Joey Graham and Renaldo Balkman combined for six points and five rebounds. The Nuggets don’t have much when it comes to true big men. Martin, Nene and Chris Andersen are all solid, but when one of those three are out or in foul trouble or struggling, the Nuggets often struggle against teams like the Hawks that have good big men.

J.R. Smith was suspended for the first seven games of the season because of an offseason incident, but he will be eligible to play for the first time on Tuesday. He is expected to come off the bench in his first game back. Smith was an important part of the Nuggets’ success last season. He provides them with their best long distance threat, and is also very athletic. Smith is a very streaky shooter, but when he is on he can shoot from anywhere on the court.

Carmelo Anthony leads the team with 31.4 points per game. He and Chauncey Billups, who is averaging 19.7 points per game, form one of the best duos in the NBA. Rookie point guard Ty Lawson has been very impressive thus far, averaging 11.4 points in less than 23 minutes per game.

The Bulls have been successful in their first four games with a balanced attack. Luol Deng leads the team with 16.7 points per game. The Nuggets have two players scoring more than that per game. But the Bulls have seven players averaging more than eight points per game - Deng, John Salmons, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Brad Miller, Kirk Hinrich and Tyrus Thomas. Taj Gibson has been solid as a rookie as well with 6.3 points per game. The Bulls aren’t spectacular in the frontcourt, but they have a lot of bodies who get the job done. Deng, Noah, Miller, Thomas and Gibson are all capable of grabbing 10 rebounds on any given night. Deng is the only one of them, though, that can really take over a game offensively. Thomas is out indefinitely with a forearm injury.

Rose, the reigning Rookie of the Year, has been a bit underwhelming thus far in his second year in the league. He is averaging 12.3 points and 5.7 assists per game. Rose is the key to this team, so without him it’s going to be tough for the Bulls to be an upper echelon team in the Eastern Conference.

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This game will be all about the backcourts. Billups-Rose will be a terrific matchup of a veteran point guard against a young star. Smith and Salmons are both solid scorers at shooting guard. In the frontcourt, the Nuggets are thin down low without Martin, who will not be playing in this game. Neither team is spectacular offensively down low, but the Bulls have the edge in depth. Anthony-Deng will be a great matchups as well between two strong, versatile small forwards.

The Bulls are 1-4 ATS in their last five games and three of their last four games have gone under. Five of the last six times that a team coming off a loss of more than 20 points and playing in its fifth straight road game was favored, the team has failed to cover and the total has gone under. That is the situation that the Nuggets are in.

Ryno’s Pick: The two key matchups are at point guard and small forward, and the Nuggets have the advantage at both positions. Billups has the advantage over Rose, and Anthony has the advantage over Deng. If Smith contributes and the Nuggets big men stay out of foul trouble, Denver should win this game. The Nuggets were the better team last season and they are once again this season. Take the Nuggets -2.