Shorn of their best player, what now for the Chicago Bulls? With Derrick Rose set for knee surgery, the prognosis remains uncertain for the 2011 NBA Most Valuable Player but there is a good chance that his season is over. Which could make it a tough spell ahead for the team he (again) leaves behind.
They must do without him for the first time on Sunday on a visit to the Los Angeles Clippers with the Bulls at 3.25 to secure an upset victory. Last season, in Rose’s absence, Chicago was still good enough to make the play-offs and be a competitive presence in the East. Minus their point guard, that is again a realistic target but any more is hugely unlikely.
In the short-term, they may toil due to the parallel sidelining of Jimmy Butler, pushing Kirk Hinrich and Mike Dunleavy into the starting line-up. That figures to hand more scoring opportunities to Chris Paul and JJ Redick tonight, even if the Bulls front line can keep Blake Griffin in check.
But Chicago’s only option now is to throw their hat on lowering the pace as much as possible, and constraining opponents. Doing that against the Clippers, who are averaging 107.0 points per game, is a tough ask. But although LA are worth a punt on -6.5 on the handicap, expect this one to stay under 192.5 total points, available at 1.95.
Minus Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, the Los Angeles Lakers keep battling and they can reach .500 on Sunday if they see off the Sacramento Kings at home, just hours after their city rivals have finished up at Staples Center.
They’re still on -3.6 points differential over the season but they’re 5-3 on their own court. With the Kings as slow starters as they come, expect the Lakers to push ahead in the first quarter and then grind out victory but have a look at going under the points line of 202.5 at 1.92.
Go under 192.5 total points in Clippers-Bulls available at 1.95
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