On a quiet Thursday night, an interesting NBA match-up occurs with the Portland Trail Blazers travelling to face the Chicago Bulls. Chicago are secure in their playoff berth, but are currently battling for a seed having dropped down to sixth in the Eastern conference. Meanwhile, Portland are four games back of the eighth playoff place in the Western conference and are in serious danger of dropping out of the race altogether.
The Trail Blazers don’t necessarily travel to Chicago feeling in great form. They won a couple of big games last week at home against the New York Knicks and Detroit Pistons, but playing on the road has continued to be a problem. They own a poor 9-25 on the road and have lost their past two games against the East in Philadelphia and Milwaukee.
Rookie of the year favorite Damian Lillard has been carrying Portland offensively, but his impact has been reduced in recent weeks and the overall play, particularly on the defensive end just hasn’t been good enough for Portland. This team doesn’t quite have the balance yet, but they are still dangerous with Lillard running the point and LaMarcus Aldridge playing on the inside.
In the previous tie between these two teams in November in Portland. The Trail Blazers won that clash 102-94 with Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, Lillard and Aldridge all getting on the scoreboard as the offense ran smoothly. However, these two teams are in very different places now. The Bulls overall team game has come together significantly since that game, while Portland’s weaknesses have been severely exposed since that point.
Chicago’s game has turned south since it looked at one point like they were going to even earn home court advantage. They’ve lost five of their past seven games and own just an 8-13 record since the calender turned to February. Still, they are 3-1 in their past four home games and they’ve spent a lot of time on the road recently. They’ve only lost one home game (Cleveland Feb haven’t lost a home game that they perhaps ought to have won since about mid-January. Their home losses have come against the likes of Denver, Miami, Oklahoma City and San Antonio.
The Derrick Rose story remains of extreme interest in Chicago. Apparently the young point guard has been having some excellent practices, but coach Tom Thibodeau still maintains that the star’s return remain relatively unknown and unclear. Rose is the key piece of the puzzle in Chicago and on any given night his absence can be extremely problematic.
Betting Preview: Chicago (-5.5) vs. Portland
This isn’t an easy game to pick because the Bulls have been playing so poorly on the road and the Trail Blazers should be expected to play desperate basketball at this point in their season. However, I’m going to bet with the size and experience of Chicago to profit in this match-up. A five and a half point spread is going to be very tight, but Chicago’s control on the boards and physically on the inside should give them a victory by that margin.
The Pick: Bulls (-5.5) [5dimes.eu]
Writer’s season record against the spread for Sports Bet Listings: 6-2