The Phoenix Suns and the Chicago Bulls head into a Saturday night matchup knowing that they’ll need to play a lot better than they did on Friday. Both teams suffered disappointing defeats in their return to action after the All-Star break.
For Chicago’s part, heavy defeat against the Detroit Pistons was especially disappointing considering the fact that they had entered All-Star weekend on a high with a convincing win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. They lost to a shorthanded Pistons who still hadn’t brought all of their players together after trade deadline action. Spencer Dinwiddie started at point guard after spending most of the season in the D-League.
Equally disappointing was the play of Derrick Rose, who also appeared to have turned the corner in the game against Cleveland. He scored just eight points on 2-12 shooting, picking up a pair of two assists. It’s clear that the Bulls still have a lot of work to do at both the offensive and defensive end of the floor. On a more positive note, Jimmy Butler returned from a shoulder injury and didn’t look like he had missed a beat playing nearly 40 minutes and scoring 30 points.
The Suns also suffered a disappointing defeat dropping a competitive game against the Western conference basement dwelling Minnesota Timberwolves. Phoenix is a half game out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the West and the odds are stacked against them as they compete against New Orleans and Oklahoma City for that postseason berth.
Head coach Jeff Hornacek has some hard work to do after a trade deadline where two key members of his backcourt in Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas. The good news for the contest against the Bulls is that new guards Marcus Thornton and Brandon Knight should be available for this game. It won’t necessarily be easy to blend them into the lineup straight away, but both provide valuable scoring punch that was missing against the T-Wolves.
Betting Preview: Phoenix (+5.5) at Chicago
The Bulls and Rose should come out very motivated at home in this game. Expect a much stronger all-round performance and for Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol to control the inside court matchup.
The Pick: Chicago (-5.5) (www.betonline.ag)
Writer’s Record Against The Spread: 27-19