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Bulls, Nets tip off Christmas Day festivities
By: Zach Cohen - StatFox
Published: 12/25/2013  at  4:20:00 AM
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Tip-off: Wednesday, 12:00 p.m. ET
Line: Brooklyn -3, Total: 187.5

Two teams who have mightily underperformed this season meet for a Christmas Day matchup when the Bulls visit the Nets.

Chicago lost PG Derrick Rose for the season due to another injury and hasnít been able to recover the magic that guided the team to the playoffs last season, going 4-11 (SU and ATS) without their superstar. Brooklyn has also struggled to stay healthy this season and has failed to live up to its hefty expectations under new head coach Jason Kidd. Last season, these teams met in the playoffs where the Bulls knocked out the Nets in a seven-game series in the first round despite not having Rose. In the past 10 meetings between these two teams, the Chicago is 6-4 (both SU and ATS) versus the Nets. The teams have split the past 10 meetings (5-5 SU) in the Nets' home arena, with the Bulls going 6-2 ATS in the past eight road games in this series. Chicago's toughness inside will be a lot for the Nets to deal with without starting C Brook Lopez (20.7 PPG, 6.0 RPG) who is out for the season with a stress fracture in his foot.

Which team will earn the much-needed victory on Christmas Day? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The five experts are absolutely sizzling on NBA Best Bets in December, going 67% ATS (47-23) including 21-2 ATS (91%) since Dec. 16. During the month, StatFox Zach has an astronomical 93% ATS mark (13-1) and is currently 62% ATS (24-15) on Best Bets for the season. StatFox Dave has an excellent 81% ATS (13-3) Best Bets record in December and is 58% ATS (23-17) on Best Bets for the season. Since Dec. 16, StatFox Gary is 4-0 ATS, while both StatFox Brian and StatFox Scott are 3-1 ATS

The Bulls (10-16 SU, 9-17 ATS) are without Derrick Rose for the season, but they no longer have players like Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli to pick up the scoring off the bench. Those players provided a spark that got Chicago into the playoffs and the second round last season, but the Bulls have struggled this season with a mere 91.8 PPG. They have scored just 90.9 PPG on the road where they are 3-11 SU this season (4-10 ATS). Recently, however, the pickup of PG D.J Augustin has lifted the team. In the Bulls win over the Cavaliers on Saturday, Augustin had 18 points, 10 assists and five rebounds in 46 minutes of play. He had 15 points and five assists in the game before against the Thunder. He will need to hold his own against Nets star point guard Deron Williams. Over the past seven games, C Joakim Noah has played outstanding basketball with five double-doubles while averaging 13.7 PPG, 12.7 RPG and 3.7 APG. He will be facing a Nets team that lacks a true center with Brook Lopez out of the lineup. PF Carlos Boozer must find his scoring touch for the Bulls as he is averaging just 12.0 PPG on 37.5% FG over the past five games.

The Nets have been struggling as of late and itís not going to get better without C Brook Lopez in the lineup. The last time the Nets played the Bulls was in the playoffs last season, and even when they were completely healthy, they were unable to beat a depleted Bulls team. Brooklyn lacks toughness as the team ranks near the bottom of the NBA in both rebounding and scoring defense. The Nets also are not nearly good enough offensively for how little defense they play, as they score below the league average. PG Deron Williams has been in and out of the lineup all season, but he is healthy now and must win his matchup against D.J Augustin by a wide margin to give his team a chance to play. SF Paul Pierce has been scoring the ball much better as of late, as he is finally healthy. Pierce must score 20+ points for the Nets to come away with a victory. It is difficult to score on the Bulls defense, and Brooklyn must find a way to mask its defensive woes as well.

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