The Chicago Bulls are off to a 12-7 start and sit just 2 1/2 games off Eastern Conference pacesetters Toronto. But now that the Cleveland Cavaliers have finally hit their stride, there’s only one obvious candidate for the most under-performing team in the NBA.
And, potentially, the one with the most upside. Chicago, still rated third favourites for the title at 8.00, have won only five of their last ten games with only one of those victories coming against a over-.500 opponent.
That doesn’t bode well for the Bulls tonight, when they host a Golden State Warriors team has won 11 straight and is absolutely flying.
But there are myriad reasons why it’s premature to rule out a parade through the Windy City in June.
The big one, of course, is Derrick Rose who is being nursed gently through the early stages of his comeback but is still putting up reasonable numbers of 16.2 points and 5.1 assists per game. That can surely increase.
Pau Gasol has racked up 22 points and 12 rebounds over his last six outings and looks to have chosen a team which is utilising his talents to the full.
And while Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson have been battled through a series of injuries that have been a large factor in the Bulls ceding 99.9 points per game (17th overall), you can bet that their defence will be much more effective when the interior pair get healthy.
It’s been a particular issue at home where Chicago is just 2-4, including two overtime defeats to Dallas and Cleveland.
The Warriors are favoured by -2.5 on the handicap but if Gibson is available, it could be the Bulls going on the run – and on the rise.
Best bet: Go over 205.5 total points in Chicago-Golden State at 2,45