Wow. The Chicago Bulls simply blew the doors off the Miami Heat in another under-manned stand against the Heat. Just like in last year’s playoff opener, the Bulls used aggressive defense and a seemingly bigger effort to overwhelm the Heat and notch an easy win.
Of course it didn’t hurt that they shot over 50% from three point range as well…
Which raises an interesting question. Yesterday Derrick Rose announced he is still a possibility to return for the Playoffs. The bigger question from the Bulls standpoint is ‘do we want him to?’ Forget the danger of re-injury, the danger of being a sloppily inefficient team while he rounds himself into shape is an even more immediate concern. Keep in mind they were just 5-5 WITH Rose, and he shot a dreadful 35% from the floor, making an already questionable offense remarkably inefficient to boot.
It will be interesting, especially if the Bulls continue to play as well at home, especially with Jimmy Butler returning to the lineup to add some depth and offensive punch.
Let’s move onto Friday’s free picks.
Toronto Raptors at Phoenix Suns -4 (Total: 200.5)
Right now the Phoenix Suns would be out of the playoff picture, while the Raptors are battling for the 4th seed as the Atlantic Division “champs.” Such is life in the unbalanced NBA of 2013-2014. However do not let their respective positions, or even records, evaluate these teams. Phoenix has been clearly better so far this season and gets to play at home tonight, where they are 5-3 with two of their losses coming to top-tier teams.
Phoenix has cooled off a bit after their hot start, but much of that is a function of playing six of their last eight games on the road, including trips to Houston, Memphis and Miami (1-2). Tonight, they get to come home and host an east-coast travelled Eastern Conference foe. I like the way that stacks in Phoenix’s favor.
Phoenix has a positive +/- ratio while Toronto has a negative one, but the stat that more leaps off the page is their respective shooting percentages. Phoenix is nearly four points higher thanks to the gunning inefficiency of Rudy Gay. Don’t think for a moment that Memphis didn’t know exactly what it was giving up last year; a TON of missed shots.
I like Phoenix to both win and cover at home tonight. Goran Dragic is playing very well in tandem with Eric Bledsoe, giving them one of the better unheralded backcourts in the NBA. Look for both to shine tonight against the non-descript Raptor guards.