Portland Trailblazers vs. Chicago Bulls Preview and Pick

Portland Trailblazers -3.5 (22-14) at Chicago Bulls +3.5 (16-21) O/U 193 8:30 PM ET Monday January 12, 2009
By Jason Green at Predcitem.com

Tonight the Portland Blazers travel to the Windy City to play the struggling Chicago Bulls. Even though the Bulls won their last game they are only 3-7 in their last 10 games, 5 games under .500, and they currently trail the Cleveland Cavaliers by 14 games in the Central Division. The Blazers are 6-4 in their last 10 games and they sit in 2nd place in the Northwest Division trailing the Denver Nuggets by 2 games. The Bulls conclude a 5 game home stand tonight and they had hoped to gain some ground in the East playing some weak teams, but they are only 2-2 and could really use a win tonight against a Blazers team that recently got Brandon Roy back after he missed 4 games due to injury.

This season the Bulls are 12-6 at home and the Blazers are 8-10 on the road.

Hoops bookies have the Blazers as 3.5 point favorites with a total around 193. The Blazers are posted at -145 as away favorites and the Bulls are posted at +125 as home dogs.

The Bulls come into this game after getting embarrassed losing to the lowly Oklahoma City Thunder 109-98 in OT on Saturday night, as they were outscored 15-4 by the Thunder in the overtime period. The high scorer for the Bulls in that game was Ben Gordon going for 22 points on 9/19 shooting. For the game the Bulls shot 40/92 from the field for a FG% of 43.5%. On defense the Bulls played good D only allowing the Thunder to shoot 40/98 for a FG% of 40.8%.

The Blazers come into this game after beating the Golden State Warriors 113-100 on Saturday night. The high scorer for the Blazers in that game was LaMarcus Aldridge going for 26 points on 11/18 shooting. For the game the Blazers shot 41/85 for a FG% of 48.2%. On defense the Blazers did not have a good game allowing the Warriors to shoot 38/75 for a FG% of 50.7%.

Chicago ranks 11th in scoring (94.4 ppg) and the Blazers rank 14th (98 ppg). The reason the Blazers have a winning record and the Bulls do not is that Portland ranks 9th in points allowed (94.9 ppg), while Chicago only ranks 25th (102.7 ppg). It is strange that 16 spots in the rankings separate these teams, as the Bulls are actually holding their opponents to a lower FG%. The Blazers are a much better rebounding team, as they have a rebound differential of +4.1 rpg, while the Bulls are at -2.2 rpg.

This season the Blazers are 17-19 ATS this season and the Bulls are 16-21. In terms of Over/Under games the Blazers are 16-25 this season the Bulls are 20-17.

On the injury front SG’s Rudy Fernandez and Brandon Roy are day-to-day for the Blazers and for the Bulls PG Kirk Hinrich is Out and SF Luol Deng and PF
Drew Gooden are day-to-day.

The key for the Bulls in this game is how their inside D plays. The Bullsdo not have solid interior D, which is not a good thing facing Blazers’ big men Greg Oden (8 ppg) and LeMarcus Aldridge (17.6 ppg). The Bulls will have to keep these 2 off the boards and not give the Blazers second chance points.

If Oden and Aldridge can shut down Drew Gooden (13.3 ppg) then the Blazers have good chance to win, as Gooden is really the only scoring threat inside the paint for the Bulls.

A big match up in this game will be between the 2 SG’s of Brandon Roy (22.8 ppg) and Ben Gordon (21 ppg). Since the Bulls do not have much inside scoring Gordon and backcourt mate Derrick Rose (16.8 ppg) will have to have a good scoring game. In Rose’s first game against the Blazers he played terrible only going for 6 points on 1/8 shooting and dishing out 1 assist. He has to have a solid game for the Bulls to win tonight.

The Bulls need to snap out of the scoring slump, as they have not cracked the 100-point barrier in their last 6 games.

This game is more important for the Bulls, as they hit the road soon and currently are in the 10th position in the Eastern Conference.

Jason’s Pick: The Blazers absolutely shellacked the Bulls earlier this season by pounding them inside. Look for more of the same tonight despite the game being on the road.