Orlando Magic at Chicago Bulls -9.5 (Total: 187.5)
Our winning streak finally derailed last night with Dallas absolutely hammering the Portland Trailblazers, adding to their impressive win resume for 2012. They have already bagged the Lakers, and now they add the Blazers to the resume thanks to yet another fantastic performance from new addition OJ Mayo. They are still without Dirk for another month plus, but at 3-1 after playing a solid early schedule, perhaps things are going to be OK in Big D after all…
Speaking of exceeding expectations, the Orlando Magic will take their unbeaten 2-0 record to Chicago tonight to take on the 2-1 Bulls. Many people, myself included, thought Orlando had an opportunity to be the worst team in the NBA. They still might end up in that dubious spot, but for now, the tandem of Big Baby Davis and JJ Reddick have been getting the job done. With Derek Rose still sidelined until at least Christmas this game doesn’t appear to be quite the nearly double-digit blowout Vegas has it tabbed to be.
Chicago still has plenty of talent, especially in their frontcourt with Luol Deng and Joakim Noah, but they struggled mightily with the less-than-offensively talented New Orleans Hornets in their most recent outing, an 89-82 loss. I think Glen Davis will get his points tonight, but Joakim Noah will make him work for it tonight.
Orlando is battling not just a depleted roster, but also some mounting injury concerns. Hedo Turkgolgu is out, and point guard Jameer Nelson might be out tonight as well (he is listed as questionable). In fact, the Magic have some issues all over the place, and it is hard to see them functioning very efficiently tonight. They have been a nice story, and their phenomenal willingness to share the basketball has been admirable. They have collected 50 assists in just two games, and have the freewheeling nature of a college team where everyone is buddies.
Of course, it is easy to all be buddies when things are going well. I don’t think they are going to go real well tonight. I am not overwhelmed by Chicago and their roster. I think they will struggle to score most nights until D-Rose returns. However, defensively, they will continue to be excellent. Last time they hosted the Magic (who HAD Dwight Howard at the time) they held them to a franchise record low 59 points! I think they’ll score more than 59 tonight, but I am not sure they’ll score more than 79.
I think the Bulls win, but banking on a double-digit win from a less-than-great team in the NBA is a little dicey. The pick I like better is the UNDER 187.5. This feels like a 90-80 type basketball game to me, especially with all the people sidelined and hobbling tonight.
Free Pick: Total UNDER 187.5