Pro Hoops on Sunday afternoon and we will see the Chicago Bulls travel to South Beach to take on the Miami Heat. The game is scheduled for a 1:00 pm (Eastern) start time and will be televised on ABC. Currently the Odds for the game have Miami favored by 8 points while the total sits at 189.5.
Analysis: The Chicago Bulls are still trying to lock up their spot in the Eastern Conference playoff bracket. The The Bulls will be playing this game short-handed without C Joakim Noah (foot), PF Taj Gibson (knee) and SG Richard Hamilton (suspension). Chicago has won four straight games against playoff teams, but has lost six in a row against teams that will not play in the postseason. This Bulls offense has been terrible this season with the second-fewest points in the league (93.1 PPG) on 43.6% FG (6th-worst in NBA) and 34.8% threes (9th-worst in league), but the defense has been outstanding, giving up just 92.8 PPG (3rd in NBA) on 44.2% FG (9th in league) and 34.6% threes (6th in NBA). With C Joakim Noah hurting, PF Carlos Boozer (16.1 PPG, 9.6 RPG) has really stepped up his game. He tallied his fourth straight double-double in Friday's loss, and is averaging 18.0 PPG and 12.0 RPG during this streak. He's also been dominant against Miami's suspect frontcourt this season, averaging 20.0 PPG (61% FG) and 13.3 RPG in the season series. With SF Luol Deng hurting and SG Richard Hamilton (10.1 PPG) suspended for this game, SF Jimmy Butler (8.5 PPG, 3.9 RPG) and PG Nate Robinson (13.3 PPG, 4.4 APG) will be asked to do the bulk of the scoring outside the paint.
The Miami Heat are just trying to stay sharp before entering the playoffs as the overwhelming favorite in the East. The Heat welcomed LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh back to the lineup on Friday but still made extensive use of the reserves in a win over the Boston Celtics. Other than their lack of rebounding (minus-2.2 RPG margin, 4th-worst in NBA), the Heat don't have any other weakness. Not only do they score 102.9 PPG (5th in NBA) on a league-leading 49.5% FG and 39.5% threes (2nd in NBA), but they allow just 95.1 PPG (6th in league) on 44.0% FG (7th in NBA) and 35.0% threes (9th in league). During the current five-game win streak, those defensive numbers have improved to 89.6 PPG allowed on 41.7% FG and 32.7% threes. With the big three of SF LeBron James (hamstring), SG Dwyane Wade (knee) and PF Chris Bosh (knee) playing sparingly this month, SG Ray Allen (11.1 PPG), has stepped up with 15.6 PPG on 48% FG and 44% threes in five April games. PF Rashard Lewis (4.8 PPG) and SG Mike Miller (4.3 PPG) have also looked to score more this month, as Lewis is averaging 11.7 PPG and 4.2 RPG, while Miller has pumped in 11.0 PPG (48% FG, 45% threes) and 5.0 RPG.
Pick: I will go with the Under in this one. The Bulls are missing allot of off and this is from a team that scores very little anyway. The Bulls average just 93.1 ppg overall and 93.3 ppg on the road, so they will need to rely n their slower pace and defense to win this one. Defense is something the Bulls know as they ave allowed just 92.9 ppg overall and 94.9 ppg on the road. Miami has also played good defense this year, as they have allowed just 95.1 ppg and they should have more than enough defense to hold down a weakened Chicago attack. The Under is 4-1 the last 5 in the series and with more defense than offense in this one expect that trend to continue.
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