NBA Picks: Raptors at Bulls Point Spread
Toronto Raptors at Chicago Bulls
After a poor start to the season, the Chicago Bulls appear to have found a solution over the past couple of games, earning wins over the Cleveland Cavaliers and Charlotte Hornets. The Raptors enjoyed a brief respite at home after a long Christmas road trip, earning a shaky win over the Utah Jazz, barely covering a modest spread in the process. In a reversal of fortune, the Raptors are walking wounded while the Bulls are the healthiest they’ve been in years.
The Raptors have had to do without Patrick Patterson in the lineup for the past three games after he suffered a knee injury during a loss to the rebuilding Phoenix Suns. As a game-time decision, Patterson’s inclusion in the lineup would alter the complexion of the matchup. Unfortunately for the Raps, the news coming out of Toronto has been mixed, with rumblings of an ankle problem joining Patrick’s list of ailments.
Rajon Rondo has been unceremoniously benched by coach Hoiberg, representing the only missing body in the Bulls roster. It appears to be a case of addition by subtraction, with the Bulls playing better ball over the past three games.
Raptors at Bulls Prediction
Bet Chicago Bulls (+120) at William Hill
Over the past few seasons, the Raptors have been the superior squad in the eastern conference, but the Bulls haven’t dropped a game against the Raptors in three years. During this 9-0 run, Chicago has witnessed their power forwards step up to slay Toronto, including fine performances from Bobby Portis, Nikola Mirotic, Taj Gibson and Dougie McBuckets. Expect one of Chicago’s stretch fours to get hot early, as Hoiberg looks to fully leverage his advantage at power forward.
Jimmy Butler is a Raptor slayer, and he’s in the midst of his finest year yet, averaging around 25 points a game. Now that Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo are out of his way, Butler doesn’t have to share the ball with less efficient players. Dwayne Wade’s numbers will suffer a bit, but team offense should thrive under Butler’s steady leadership. Unlike Rose and Rondo, Butler brings intense defensive effort every night, further improving the Bulls odds on a nightly basis.
All streaks must come to an end, and you can be sure that Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are fully aware of the fact they haven’t beaten the Bulls in three years. However, Patterson and Jared Sullivan missing puts a lot of pressure on Toronto’s young power forwards, who struggle to defend bigs with range. During Toronto’s recent win against the shorthanded Jazz, most of the squad coasted through the first three quarters before waking up in the fourth, which doesn’t bode well. Any lack of urgency will make it nearly impossible for the Raptors to break the Bulls three year winning streak.
NBA Picks Tonight | January 7, 2017
Saturday night in the NBA features a total of eight games, including a few notable mismatches. The San Antonio Spurs will trounce the Batum-less Charlotte Hornets and Russell Westbrook will look to pad his triple double averages against the constantly rebuilding Denver Nuggets. The Wolves have a solid chance of upsetting the visiting Jazz, especially with Karl-Anthony Towns lining up against Rudy Gobert. This matchup between elite bigs and high flyers like Wiggins and LaVine will be worth the price of admission alone.
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