Friday night in the NBA will see the Chicago Bulls travel to Florida to take on the Orlando Magic. The game is scheduled for a 8:00 pm tipoff and will be televised live on ESPN. Currently Orlando is favored by 1 point with the total being set at 181 for this game. One of the league's best teams goes up against one of its hottest players Friday as the Chicago Bulls travel to Orlando for a date with Dwight Howard and the Magic.
Free Analysis: After starting out the year 1-1 the Bulls come in having won 5 in a row. Bulls reigning MVP and star point guard Derrick Rose had some extra time to rest his sore elbow and looks to come out firing tonight in the continuation of a three-game trip. The Bulls are hoping that rest will enable Rose to help them add to their strong start with a fourth straight win over the Magic (5-2). In the previous matchup between the teams April 10 in Orlando, the point guard had 39 points while making 13 of 17 shots. The Bulls are hoping Luol Deng (15.4 ppg & 7.3 rpg) can bounce back from a rough night on Wednesday, where he missed 5 of 6 shots and scored just 2 points vs Detroit. Deng has averaged 19.0 points on 56.1 percent shooting in his last three matchups with Orlando. Carlos Boozer (13.4 ppg & 8.1 rpg), meanwhile, will try to build on a season-high, 19-point effort he had in the Detroit game. The Bulls big man, though, averaged 11.3 points last season against Orlando, his second-lowest against an Eastern Conference team. Chicago is ranked 9th in scoring (97.9 ppg) and 8th in 3pt FG% (38.2%), while they have permitted just 86.6 ppg (1st) on 41.9% (7th). Orlando has won five of six games since losing its season at Oklahoma City on Christmas and posted a 103-85 victory versus winless Washington on Wednesday. Howard enters this game after recording a season-high 28 points on 11-of-13 shooting and pulling down 20 rebounds in a 103-85 rout of visiting Washington on Wednesday. Ryan Anderson contributed 23 points and 15 boards in that game, which was Orlando's sixth game in nine days. Last april when the teams met Dwight Howard missed the game due to a suspension for his 18th technical foul of the season, but Ryan Anderson had a career-high 28 points and 10 rebounds while filling in at center for his All-Star teammate during the April 10 defeat. Howard, who leads the team in rebounds, FG%, Blocks and steals, had 40 points in one of last season's losses to Chicago, and the Magic have dropped the last three meetings when he's scored at least 20. Orlando is middle of the pack in scoring (95.7 ppg), but they shot well as they are 9th hitting 45.4% of their shots. On defense they are tough ranking 2nd in scoring (88.4 ppg) and 8th in FG defense (41.9%). Orlando will hit the road for four games against the Kings, Blazers, Warriors and Knicks after tonight's game with the Bulls. Chicago took three of four meetings with Orlando last season, but the Magic are 10-5 in the past 15 encounters. The Bulls have lost six of nine visits to central Florida.
Free Pick: Chicago is on a nice run and tonight a healthy Derek Rose will certainly help them. The Bulls have done it at both ends of the floor this year as they have put up 97.1 ppg on 45.75 shooting, including a solid 38.2% from long range. Chicago did struggle vs Atlanta (76 points), but in their other 4 games during their 5 game win streak they did average 106.3 ppg. This is a very balanced offense, as they have 6 players that average at least 8.4 ppg, with the leader being last years league MVP Derek Rose (20.9 ppg). Rose, though, banged his left elbow on the floor after a drive to the basket late in the fourth quarter vs Detroit. He stayed in the game but had the elbow wrapped afterward, and told reporters an X-ray was negative and he should be 100% for this game. Orlando has put up 95.7 ppg (15th), but haven't played a team with this good a defense just yet. The defenses are even at 1-2 in the league, but Chicago get a solid edge on offense and even though they have struggled in this building they will find a way to get a big road win here.