Free NBA Picks: Bulls at Heat Odds for Opening Night
by Alan Matthews - 10/28/2013
Heat-Pacers is a nice little rivalry. Heat-Celtics was also very good but is dead now with all the relevant Boston players -- other than Rajon Rondo -- now playing in Brooklyn. But clearly the best rivalry in the NBA going right now is Heat-Bulls, and it gets a major jolt on Tuesday's Opening Night when Derrick Rose faces Miami for the first time since April 12, 2012.
Rose is obviously eager to prove all those doubters wrong after he sat out last season and caused quite a bit of negative press while doing so -- especially in Chicago. Rose and teammates say he's better than ever. He spent all that time off not just rehabbing but bulking up and improving his jumper. If Rose starts hitting three-pointers on a consistent basis, he will be unguardable. Rose looked dominant in the preseason and says he has added five inches to his vertical. The Bulls say there will be no minutes limit or resting Rose in the second of back-to-backs, although their mindset could change if Rose comes up with a sore knee some night as he did once in the preseason, which caused him to sit out a game in Brazil.
And if Rose needs any more motivation to have a monster game on Tuesday, he can look back at his last game against the Heat. That April night, Rose was 1-for-13 from the field and finished with only two points in 25 minutes. Chicago won anyway and would earn the top seed in the East, only to get bounced in the first round of the playoffs when Rose blew out his knee in Game 1 against Philadelphia. The Heat think they know how to guard Rose -- either by doubling him or just sticking LeBron James on him. Rose struggled from the field in a five-game series loss in the 2011 East Finals against Miami because of the LeBron factor. Chicago also lost in five to Miami in last year's conference semifinals without Rose or an ill Luol Deng.
Not that the Heat need any motivation as they will be raising their second straight banner on Tuesday night and getting their rings. I'm sure the Heat players are still a bit peeved they lost in Chicago on March 27 to end their 27-game winning streak, six shy of tying the NBA record.
Bulls at Heat Betting Story Lines
Both teams are over the cap, so only minor tweaks were made to each roster. Chicago lost Nate Robinson, the only guy on the team who could create his own shot last season, and Marco Belinelli but added Mike Dunleavy. Chicago was not a good three-point shooting team a year ago, and Dunleavy is very good at that. He will be an anchor of the second team.
The Heat lost Mike Miller, who did nothing last regular season but again proved a marksman in the playoffs when needed. Miami added two former draft busts in Michael Beasley and Greg Oden simply for bench depth. Beasley can score but is a knucklehead, while the Heat essentially got Oden only for the playoffs and dealing with the likes of the Bulls' Joakim Noah and Indiana's Roy Hibbert, who dominated Miami in the East Finals.
The Heat's threepeat chances pretty much lie on Dwyane Wade's knees. At the end of last season, he had painful bone bruises on his right knee and an issue with his left knee late in the NBA Finals. But Wade is as healthy as he has been in a few years. He didn't have any offseason surgery for the first time in three years. You could argue that Wade is the most important player in the NBA this season. If he's healthy and Miami threepeats, it would be hard for LeBron to leave as free agent. If Wade isn't and Miami falters, James could be a Cavalier this summer.
The big injury news for this one is on the Bulls' Noah, the one guy the Heat really don't have a matchup for. He has played only 20 minutes total this preseason with a groin injury and is very questionable for the opener. Even if the groin were to be fine, Noah's conditioning will be a problem. Also iffy for Tuesday is backup point guard Kirk Hinrich, who is dealing with a concussion. That could mean plenty of minutes for Marquis Teague behind Rose -- by all reports Teague has been an improved player this offseason after barely being used by Tom Thibodeau as a rookie.
Bulls at Heat NBA Betting Odds and Key Trends
At Bookmaker, Miami opened as a five-point favorite with a total of 187.5. The Bulls were 36-46 ATS last season (23-18 on road) and 37-44-1 “over/under” (21-20 away). Miami was 46-36 ATS (22-19 at home) and 42-39-1 O/U (24-16-1 at home). Chicago is 1-4 ATS in its past five Tuesday games. The Heat are 0-4 ATS in their past four Tuesday games. The over was 7-2 in Chicago's past nine last season. The under is 5-1 in Miami's past six at home. The road team has covered four of the past five meetings. The over is 5-2 in the past seven.
Free NBA Picks: Bulls at Heat Betting Predictions
Just to add a bit of fuel to the fire, the Heat will wear special championship warm-ups that blare the team's three NBA titles overall as well as jerseys with gold lettering and a logo of the NBA championship trophy. While Miami has had the upper hand against Chicago in the playoffs, the Bulls have generally had the Heat's number in the regular season. Chicago won in Miami once last season in addition to stopping that winning streak. The reason being is that the Bulls are tremendous on the boards, not to mention defensively, while rebounding is Miami's top weakness.
However, I don't think Noah plays, and even if he does won't be anywhere close to 100 percent. That's a huge loss. The Heat routed Dallas on Opening Night 2012 when the Mavs were getting their rings, and Miami beat Boston by 13 last season on the Heat's banner night. Rose may go crazy, but give the points and take the over.
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