Dallas – Chicago
Are the Chicago Bulls the most over-achieving team in the NBA? Given the loss of their two leading players mid-season, and the inevitable disruption that came with another injury to Derrick Rose and the trading of Luol Deng, the fact that the Bulls are sitting in third place in the Eastern Conference is a massive tribute to coach Tom Thibodeau.
Sure, they only have a .544 record. And are averaging a league-low 92.9 points per game. But the Bulls’ defence is remarkable, giving up 92.3 per night, second only to Indiana, and with an 8-2 streak over their last ten games, they’re back in business.
Curiously, however, as they head to Texas to face the Dallas Mavericks on Friday, it’s Chicago’s offense which is coming good as well. In three of their last four – all wins – they’ve topped 100 points.
Regardless, it’s going to be their D which will carry their hopes against the Mavs, who have claimed four successive victories while averaging 113.8. All have come against sub-.500 clubs but they’re 19-9 at home and good value on the match handicap of -4.5 at 1.90.
Yet with the Bulls on a scoring roll, go over the total points line of 193.5 at 2.10.
Cleveland – Utah
Coming off a win over Oklahoma City, the Cleveland Cavaliers have an obvious opportunity to maintain their charge towards the playoff places when they host the Utah Jazz.
It took a late flurry from Kyrie Irving to drown out the Thunder but although the guard is an All Star starter, his averages of 21.4 points and 6.3 assists don’t quite reflect what has been a disappointing campaign.
Utah, with little to play for, has won two straight but now head on the road for six games out East. With their offense heating up, have a punt over the total points line of 193.5 at 2.05 - with the Jazz at 2.35 to come out on top.
Best bet: Take over the total points line of 193.5 in Dallas-Chicago at 2.10