NBA Picks Thursday TNT: Heat at Bulls Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 2/24/2011
The Chicago Bulls entered the All-Star Break with a very impressive home win over the San Antonio Spurs, the team with the best record in the NBA. Now Chicago is featured again with a matchup against the Miami Heat, the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference and, no offense to San Antonio, the likely team to beat come June and the NBA Finals.
How the Teams Enter
Both clubs have played just one game post-All-Star Break and the results couldn’t have been more different.
Either the Bulls were looking ahead to tonight’s game or they were just out of sync because Joakim Noah returned from a 30-game injury absence, but Chicago had its worst defensive game of the season on Wednesday night. The Bulls went to Toronto and were beaten 118-113. The Raptors posted opponent season-highs for shooting at 58.1 percent and points in the paint at 58. It was the second-most points allowed by Chicago this season and the Raptors didn't even make a 3-pointer. Noah was supposed to make the defense better, but Coach Tom Thibodeau said it was a “disaster.” Noah had seven points and 16 rebounds and played just over 24 minutes as he tries to get his conditioning back.
The Heat won their 11th game in the past 12 – the only loss coming at Boston – by routing a bad Sacramento team, 117-97, that was without star Tyreke Evans on Tuesday night. The host Heat never trailed, were up 35-16 after a quarter and were able to pull their starters early. Miami’s Big 3 of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh outscored the Kings 45-44 in the first half by themselves. LeBron had 21 in the first half and Miami is now 7-0 when he scores 20 before intermission. It was Miami’s 11th win by at least 20 points this season, which is by far the most in the NBA.
Heat at Bulls Betting Story Lines
Miami’s Wade re-aggravated a sprained ankle in the All-Star Game but played Tuesday and had 23 points, so his status isn’t in question. Plus he always gets jazzed up about playing in his hometown of Chicago. However, the Heat remain without their best long-range shooter, Mike Miller. He will miss a third consecutive game and didn’t even travel with the team. The Heat say it’s not related to several blows to the head that Miller took in games before the All-Star break – resulting in concussion rumors – but that Miller has an ear infection and couldn’t fly. It should also be noted that the Heat reportedly are shopping Miller ahead of today’s trade deadline for an upgrade at point guard or center.
Tonight’s game could be huge for Chicago because the Bulls and Heat only play three times this season and the Bulls won the first one, 99-96 in Chicago on Jan. 15. However, the Heat were without an injured LeBron, with Bosh missing the fourth quarter due to a sprained ankle. That was the game Bosh criticized Chicago’s Omar Asik after Asik rolled into Bosh’s ankle and caused Bosh to miss five games. Bulls guard Derrick Rose outscored Wade 34-33 in that matchup. The Bulls were without Noah in that one. If Chicago wins tonight, it clinches a head-to-head tiebreaker that could be vital for a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the East. The Bulls are currently three games behind the Heat.
Heat at Bulls Betting Odds and Key Trends
Miami is a 2.5-point favorite with the total at 192 on NBA betting odds. The Heat are taking a near 70 percent lean. Chicago is 25-4 at home and 18-9-2 ATS. Miami is 21-10 on the road and 18-12-1 ATS.
The Bulls are 8-2 ATS in their past 10 as a dog.
Miami is 5-2 ATS in its past seven road games.
The over is 10-2 in the Heat’s past 12 vs. teams with a winning home record.
The over is 4-0 ATS in the Bulls’ past four overall.
I think head-to-head trends are useless in this matchup since the teams have only played once as currently constructed – and even then neither was at full strength.
Heat at Bulls Prediction
The Bulls have won seven in a row (6-1 ATS) and 15 of 16 at the United Center and have the East’s best home record. Of course, the Heat are tied with the Spurs for the most road wins in the NBA. I don’t give that Raptors game much credence because it was a true trap game for the Bulls. But the Heat also will have an extra 24 hours of rest. Take Miami and the under in a defensive battle.
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