Bulls at Nuggets Picks and NBA Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 2/7/2013
You can’t get two much more dissimilar teams than will face off in the Mile High City in the nightcap of Thursday’s TNT doubleheader when the Bulls visit the Nuggets. Actually, the teams are alike in that they have similar records, have probably overachieved a little, and are battling for first-round home-court advantage in the playoffs.
The Bulls (29-19) have been hit by injuries to Joakim Noah, Kirk Hinrich and Carlos Boozer of late and Chicago has dropped two of its past three. It fell 111-101 at Indiana on Monday in a battle for the Central Division lead. That was very notable as the Bulls had won 41 straight games when scoring at least 100 points, tying an NBA record set by the San Antonio Spurs. It was only the Bulls’ eighth road loss of the season, the fewest in the NBA.
Denver (31-18) has won seven straight games (6-1 ATS) and is poised to pass Rudy Gay-less Memphis for the No. 4 spot in the West. The Nuggets got 22 points from Danilo Gallinari and Ty Lawson in Tuesday’s 112-104 win over Milwaukee. Denver is 6-1 in the past seven games in which Lawson scored 20. The Nuggets last won seven in a row from Nov. 20-Dec. 5, 2010. Denver improved to 21-3 at home, among the best marks in the NBA.
This is the first of two meetings this season.
Bulls at Nuggets Betting Story Lines
Still without Derrick Rose – although he could be as little as two weeks from returning – the Bulls rely completely on defense and are very offensively challenged. They don’t really have a player who can create his own shot off the dribble. Thus, Chicago ranks No. 26 in the NBA in averaging 93.6 points per game. But the Bulls rank No. 3 in points allowed at 91.0, and opponents shoot 42.8 percent from the field (only Indiana is better defensively).
When the Bulls lost all-star small forward Luol Deng to injury earlier this season, it was a blessing in disguise as second-year swingman Jimmy Butler has become a big-time player. The former Marquette star barely played as a rookie or much this year when Deng was healthy, but he’s averaging 14.6 points 7.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.6 steals in the past 10 games while playing terrific defense (ask Kobe Bryant). Now that Deng is back, Coach Tom Thibodeau has been using Butler sometimes at shooting guard to keep both players on the floor. Deng also can play a bit at power forward with Butler at small forward when Thibs wants to use a smallish lineup. It will be interesting to see how Butler meshes when Rose gets back.
Because of Butler’s resurgence and because of some luxury tax concerns, there has been talk the Bulls might make shooting guard Richard Hamilton available. He’s averaging 11.1 points in 23 minutes and would fit well with the Nuggets, who don’t have a true pure shooting guard. A Hamilton-to-Denver trade has been rumored, perhaps with Denver sending back seldom-used center Timofey Mozgov (YouTube him and Blake Griffin).
Chicago might want another big man because all-star center Joakim Noah is dealing with plantar fasciitis, and that can be a lingering problem. He has missed the past three games but hopes to play tonight. Taj Gibson would start if Noah can’t. Gibson had 10 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks on Monday. Boozer returned from missing a few games with a hamstring injury Monday with 10 points and five rebounds. He has been having a very nice bounce-back season and is among the NBA leaders in double-doubles. Hinrich, the starting point guard with Rose out, will not play tonight. Nate Robinson started for Hinrich and had 19 points, nine assists and five rebounds Monday. He has been one of the best offseason additions by any team. The Bulls are paying him less than $1 million. Nate still plays out of control at times, but his offense has been a godsend.
Denver isn’t a good defensive team, ranking No. 25 in the NBA in allowing 100.7 points per game. But the Nuggets are among the deepest teams in the NBA, and they play fast. Denver ranks No. 3 in offense (104.2 points per game), No. 2 in assists (23.8) and No. 1 in rebounds (45.4) led by the “Manimal” Kenneth Faried. When he has a double-double at home, the team is 20-1 all-time. The Nuggets are healthy for the most part.
Bulls at Nuggets NBA Betting Odds and Key Trends
BookMaker has installed the Nuggets as a 6.5-point favorite with the total at 196.5. The Bulls are 20-28 ATS (13-9 on road) and 20-28 “over/under” (13-9 on road). Nuggets are 29-20 ATS (16-8 at home) and 29-20 O/U (14-10 at home).
Chicago is 7-1 ATS in its past eight after an ATS loss. The Bulls are 3-13-1 ATS in the past 17 playing on two days of rest. They are 0-6 ATS against Northwest Division foes. Denver is 8-0 ATS in its past eight home games vs. teams with a winning road record. It is 0-4 ATS in its past four Thursday games. The over is 6-1 in Chicago’s past seven road games vs. teams with a winning home record. The over is 10-1 in Denver’s past 11 overall. Chicago is 1-4 ATS in its past five in Denver.
Bulls at Nuggets Picks and Betting Predictions
Denver has had Chicago’s number of late, winning two straight overall and five in a row at home. Teams hate playing in the altitude, giving Denver arguably the best home-court advantage in the NBA.
I don’t see any way this shapes up well for Chicago. The Bulls are a great rebounding team as well, but they could get pounded if Noah is out. At best, he plays at less than 100 percent. Plus, the Bulls have to travel out afterward to Utah. Chicago is an effort team, which works against teams that are deep. The Nuggets can just roll out waves of players to fatigue the Bulls. I like the Nuggets and the over regardless of whether Noah plays.
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