Chicago and New Jersey have split two meetings with the Nets 2-0 ATS.
Bettors who have wagered on the Chicago Bulls this season have turned a pretty profit so far. The Central-Division-leading Bulls bring a league-leading 41-23-2 spread record and a seven-game winning streak into their Thursday night contest against a New Jersey Nets squad in the midst of a five-game winning streak.
Tip-off time from New Jersey’s Prudential Center is 4 p.m. (PT).
Chicago extended its winning streak to seven games with Wednesday’s 98-79 whipping of the Washington Wizards. The Bulls also covered as hefty 15 ½-point home favorites, marking their fourth straight pointspread success. It was also Chicago’s 12th consecutive victory at United Center.
The combined 187 points dipped below the 192-point closing total, leaving the ‘under’ 9-2 in Chicago’s last 11 games and 40-26 in the club’s first 66 overall endeavors.
The win moved the Bulls one-half game ahead of the Boston Celtics for the top spot in the Eastern Conference with 16 games left in the regular season.
Derrick Rose scored 23 points and Luol Deng added 20 points to lead the Bulls’ offense. Keith Bogans contributed a season-high 17 points thanks to five baskets from beyond the arc. In fact, the Bulls went 12-for-32 from downtown.
Chicago covered the big spread despite playing without Carlos Boozer (ankle) and Joakim Noah (flu). The Don Best Sports injury report lists Boozer as “doubtful” and Noah as “questionable.”
Defense has been big key to Chicago’s recent winning ways. The Bulls have yielded 86 points or fewer in nine of their last 10 outings and less than 80 points on five occasions.
The surge has lifted Chicago’s defense into first place in three important categories. The Bulls are yielding 91.1 PPG, while holding the opposition to 42.9 percent shooting from the field and 32.7 percent from beyond the three-point line.
It’s a good thing the Bulls have been stingy defensively, because their offense has been less than stellar.
Tom Thibodeau’s Bulls are scoring an average of 97.9 PPG (20th) and are shooting just 45.8 percent from the field (18th). Getting easy points at the free throw line has also been a problem, evidenced by the team shooting 73.4 percent (27th).
Though the New Jersey Nets own a dismal 22-43 ledger, they are currently on a five-game winning streak of their own.
The latest success occurred Monday when the Nets upset the Celtics as 5 ½-point home underdogs, 88-79. The win lifted New Jersey’s home ledger to 18-16 SU and 20-14 ATS.
The combined 167 points ducked well below the 187-point closing total, leaving the ‘under’ 33-31-1 in the Nets’ first 65 outings.
The five-game winning streak is New Jersey’s longest since the club won five straight from Dec. 28, 2007, to Jan. 5, 2008. It also ended a nine-game home losing streak to the Celtics and was the squad’s first home win over Boston since April 16, 2006.
The win pulled the Nets to within 5½ games of Indiana and Charlotte, who are tied for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
New Jersey and Chicago have split two meetings this season, but the Nets have covered the spread on each occasion.
The first matchup occurred on New Year’s Eve, with the Bulls registering a 90-81 victory as 10 ½-point home favorites. The combined 171 points dipped well ‘under’ the 187-point closing total.
Five days later, the Nets got their revenge with a 96-94 victory as five-point home underdogs. The Nets are now 13-4 ATS in their last 17 home games against the Bulls.
The combined 190 points skipped above the 185 ½-point closing total, enabling the ‘over’ to improve to 9-4 in the last 13 series meetings.
Chicago concludes its quick two-game road trip Thursday at Indiana against the Pacers. New Jersey begins a two-game road excursion Friday against the Milwaukee Bucks.