CHICAGO BULLS (6-6)
at UTAH JAZZ (1-14)
Tip-off: Monday, 9:05 p.m. ET
Line: Chicago -3, Total: 183
The Bulls attempt to avoid their fourth straight loss when they continue a horrible road trip Monday versus the Jazz.
Chicago had won five straight games before setting out on this current six-game road trip. Not only have the Bulls opened the trip with three straight losses (1-2 ATS), but they also lost star PG Derrick Rose to a knee injury that could keep him off the court for the remainder of the season. In Sunday night’s game versus the Clippers, Chicago suffered its worst loss of the season, 121-82. Although this young Utah team has the NBA's worst record at 1-14 SU, it is and 6-8 ATS, including 5-2 ATS in the pat seven contests. The Jazz were overmatched Sunday when they fell 95-73 in Oklahoma City, failing to cover the massive 12.5-point spread. The Bulls have won just one game this season on the road (1-6 SU, 2-5 ATS) but will be facing a Utah team that is 1-5 SU at home. These two franchises squared off earlier this season on Nov. 8, with the Bulls rolling to a 97-73 home win and easily covering the 12-point spread. They outshot the Jazz 53% FG to 29% FG in that win. Chicago has a slight 23-22 SU advantage (24-20 ATS) in this series since 1996, but has won all six meetings (5-1 ATS) since 2011. In addition to the loss of Rose, the Bulls are still missing SG Jimmy Butler (toe). Utah also has an injury concern with C Enes Kanter, who is questionable for Monday night with a sprained ankle.
Which team will stop its losing skid on Monday night? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. StatFox Forecaster has been spot-on so far this season with a 57% ATS record (35-27-1) in featured games, while the five experts are a scorching 63% ATS (31-18-1) on Best Bets since Nov. 12. During this timeframe, StatFox Brian, StatFox Gary and StatFox Zach are all 70% ATS (7-3). Brian is 55% ATS (11-9) on NBA Best Bets for the season.
The Bulls are not known for their offense, averaging only 92.5 PPG on the season (4th-fewest in NBA). They have not broken the 95-point mark or shot even 40% FG in each of the past four games. Their defense is what they excel in, giving up a meager 93.1 PPG (4th-fewest in league) to their opponents, but did allow a season-high 121 points on Sunday night to the Clippers. With PG Derrick Rose (15.9 PPG, 4.3 APG) out indefinitely, the Bulls will be leaning heavily on both PF Carlos Boozer (16.0 PPG, 8.7 RPG) and SF Luol Deng (16.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.3 SPG) to carry the team’s offense. In Chicago’s first matchup against Utah this season, these two combined to score 37 points (14-of-20 FG), grab 21 rebounds and post a +51 rating. Deng had an unbelievable night versus the Jazz with 19 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists and five steals. Boozer has averaged 18.8 PPG (55% FG) with 8.8 RPG in nine career starts against his former team while Deng has posted 14.9 PPG and 6.0 RPG in his 16 career meetings (14 starts) with Utah. The only player to net double-digit points in the Bulls most recent game without Rose was SF Mike Dunleavy (9.2 PPG, 3.3 RPG) who dropped in 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting. With Rose and SG Jimmy Butler both out, this will be a great opportunity for a couple of Chicago’s recent first round picks (PG Marquis Teague and SF Tony Snell) to get more minutes and show they belong in the NBA. Teague was 0-for-7 from the floor in the loss to the Clippers, while Snell scored just five points with a minus-25 rating in the L.A. defeat.
The Jazz are the front-runners for first pick in next year’s draft due mostly to a brutal offense that is scoring a league low 88.5 PPG on the season while shooting 41.9% from the field (3rd-worst in league). On defense, they aren't much better with a 47.2% FG Pct. defense (3rd-worst in NBA), and allow 100.6 PPG (19th in league). Utah has many young players that are getting big minutes for the team, the best so far being SF Gordon Hayward (16.9 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 4.7 APG). He has eclipsed 20 points on five different occasions this season, but is coming off a miserable three-game road trip where he scored just 8.0 PPG on 21% FG (8-for-38). Hayward scored 15 points with six rebounds and five assists against the Bulls on Nov. 8, but was only 5-for-15 from the field. He is 10-for-29 from the field (34.5%) in five career games (2 starts) against Chicago. PF Derrick Favors (13.2 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 1.5 BPG, 1.4 SPG) has also taken advantage of some great playing time and has six double-doubles already on the young season. He nearly had another double-double (10 points, 9 rebounds) in the loss at Chicago earlier this month, but was only 3-for-10 from the field and committed four turnovers. Utah’s first-round draft pick, PG Trey Burke (6.7 PPG, 2.7 APG), is finally back playing after missing the first 12 games of the season with a finger injury. But his first career start on Sunday night was pretty rough, as the rookie managed only four points (2-of-9 FG) and four assists in 20 minutes on the court.