Thursday night in the NBA will see the Boston Celtics travel to the Windy City to take on the Chicago Bulls. The game is scheduled for a 9:30 p.m. start time and it will be televised live on TNT. Currently the odds have Chicago favored by 7.5 points with the total sitting at 176.5 points for the contest.
Free Analysis: The schedule-makers aren’t going the Celtics any favors, as one night after a tough home loss to San Antonio they fly to Chicago to take on a Bulls team that could have reigning MVP Derrick Rose back in the lineup on Thursday. Boston came up just short against the Spurs at home on Wednesday night (87-86 loss), snapping a five-game SU and ATS winning streak. The Celtics lost a heartbreaker on Tuesday, leading by two with two minutes left before falling 87-86. The Celtics held the Spurs to 28 points in the second half but were undone by their Achilles heel - rebounding. Boston ranks last in the NBA in rebounding and is especially weak on the offensive glass. They had a tough time getting SG Ray Allen (14.4 PPG, 45.9% from three) going in his return to the lineup. After missing six games with an ankle injury, Allen had just five points on 2-for-6 shooting over 35 minutes on Tuesday. PF Kevin Garnett (15.6 PPG on 51.3% FG, 8.2 RPG) was also uncharacteristically off-the-mark against the Spurs, scoring 16 points but shooting just 7-for-19 from the field. SF Paul Pierce (19.0 PPG) had his string of seven 20-plus point games snapped, finishing with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Boston continues to get outstanding play out of Rajon Rondo (12.5 PPG, 11.0 APG), who handed out double-digit assists for the 14th consecutive game, finishing with 17 points and 11 assists against San Antonio. He also collected 17 points, eight assists and seven rebounds at Chicago on Feb. 16 but Boston still suffered an 89-80 setback. The Celtics were outrebounded 52-37 in that contest. Despite the loss to the Spurs, the Celtics still maintained their 1 1/2-game lead over Philadelphia for the Atlantic Division lead and are seeded fourth in the East. They will play eight of 11 games away from Beantown and own an 11-14 mark as the guest. Chicago, meanwhile, has held its own without Rose, who has missed the past 11 games because of back problems. Chicago has gone 7-4 SU and 6-5 ATS during that span. Rose went through a full contact practice on Wednesday, meaning he’s a legitimate game-time call for Thursday. It could very well take the Bulls some time to readjust to Rose, but there’s little doubt he’ll be a massive upgrade over C.J. Watson right off the bat. Watson (10.1 PPG) has proven barely serviceable as a back-up in two seasons at Chicago, and since Rose went down Watson is averaging 10.8 PPG on 33.0% FG, 3.5 APG and 2.9 TOPG. Despite the Bulls’ 7-4 SU record, he has an average plus/minus of -4.5. Reserve PG John Lucas (7.0 PPG) has proven more effective than Watson, averaging 11.6 PPG on 42.4% FG, 3.2 APG and 0.9 TOPG in 11 games since the Rose injury, with an average plus/minus of +8.5. SF Luol Deng (15.4 PPG) and PF Carlos Boozer (15.4 PPG, 8.4 RPG) have done a lot of the heavy lifting during Rose’s 11-game absence, with Deng averaging a team-high 15.7 PPG and Boozer adding 14.7 PPG on 56.9% FG and 9.5 RPG. Getting Rose back would be a huge boost, as he averaged 26.0 PPG on 47.9% FG and 6.8 APG in four games against Boston last season.Chicago has dropped two straight and three of five games, and its lead atop the conference standings is now two games ahead of hard-charging Miami. The Bulls suffered a 99-93 loss versus Houston on Monday, as Luol Deng scored a game-high 24 points and Richard Hamilton returned from a 14-game absence because of a shoulder injury and had six points, three assists and five turnovers. Boston has lost two of three meetings with Chicago this season, including an 89-80 setback at the United Center back on Feb. 16. The Bulls have won four of the past five contests between the teams and are unbeaten in four straight as the host in this series.
Free Pick: Gonna take the OVER in this one: Boston played last night so their legs might not be there defensively. Boston has allowed 89.8 ppg overall, but on the road they have struggled, allowing 95 ppg, including allowing 95 and 99 points to Charlotte and Philly respectively within their last 3 road games. Chicago has played more of a conservative offensive style without Rose, but they should have him back in the lineup and that will be a big boost to this offense as he averaged 26.0 PPG on 47.9% FG and 6.8 APG in four games against Boston last season. Still the Bulls do average 96.1 ppg at home and 96.8 ppg overall and again will be facing a tired Boston defense. Boston's doesn't score much on the year as they have averaged 91.5 ppg overall, but this will be Ray Allen's 2nd game back and they have averaged 94.6 ppg over their last 5 games so I can see them getting areound the 89.4 ppg that Chicago has allowed in their last 5 games, while Chicago should be good for somewhere in the mid 90's.
Free Picks: Celtics at Bulls Bettinghttp://PregameVideos.com - Celtics are playing great defense and Will Rose be back in Bulls lineup plus other factors NBA bettors need to know about Celtics at Bulls (Thursday, April 5, 2012) from Pregame.com - Including predictions from Bryan Leonard and analysis from host Scott Spreitzer.