January 7, 2015 (Posted at 5:00 PM ET)
Take Utah Jazz at +10.5 spread against Chicago Bulls risking 3%
The Jazz travel to the United Center to take on the Bulls. This is a rebuilding year for Utah under a rookie coach with a young roster but this is a squad that has a lot of potential and upside. They are led by Gordon Hayward who is averaging 19 points and fast developping into a sharpshooter. Big man Derrick Favors is right behind him scoring an average of 15.7 points per night while leading the team with 8.5 rebounds. PG Trey Burke is starting to adjust to the speed of NBA and contributes 12 points per game while averaging a team high 5 assists. Coach Quin Snyder has a mix of youth and experience on his bench as he can go to rookie Dante Exum or veterans like Steve Novak and Trevor Booker.
The Bulls come into this game rolling, having won 9 of their last 10, but injuries are starting to pile up and they have much bigger priorities than covering this huge spread. Both Noah and Rose are questionable for this game and while we expect them to play in some capacity, we wouldn't be surprised if Tom Thibodeau limits their minutes on the court, especially against a perceived weaker opponent. Mike Dunleavy remains sidelined for this contest which makes it tougher for them to cover given that he is a veteran presence and an excellent 3-point shooter! His absence will limit their prowess from behind the arc and should allow Utah to keep within striking distance. Overlooking a team such as the Jazz can be a dangerous proposition as the Bulls nearly found out when these two squared off last time. Earlier this year, the Jazz narrowly missed knocking off the Bulls as Chicago came away with a tight 2-point victory!
With the Bulls also on such a hot streak at the moment, their spreads have started to get inflated. Chicago is a quality team that is no doubt piling up wins, however when being asked to cover these hefty numbers, they have routinely fallen short. The Bulls are just 3-6 ATS when being listed as home favorites of 9.5 to 12 points this season! They laid 10 points against the Nets, Pelicans, Nuggets and Boston recently at home and won all but didn't cover a single spread during that span!
Being expected to defeat a team by double digits is a tall order in NBA. There are a number of factors that can cause a team to blow a big lead and allow their opponents to get back in the game. Complacency in the final minutes can easily allow for a 15 point lead to evaporate to 9 points rather quickly as we have seen many times already this season. Getting this many points in this unique situation with Utah looking for revenge is too good to pass up on. We actually handicapped this game at Bull -8 so to see them listed as double digits favorites presents definite value! The Jaz have won 4 of their last 6 road games and have proven that playing in hostile environments doesn't faze them as it used to, judging by their wins in Memphis and Miami. In this particular contest, they don't need to win; they simply need to put in a quality effort to keep the game close and we believe they will.
Joakim Noah stated after their win against the Rockets on Monday that it felt like they were playing in a playoff game! It was extremely satisfying for the Bulls to beat Houston thanks largely to a solid 4th quarter performance but we don't expect them to share the same enthusiasm when playing the lowly Jazz tonight. Chicago will likely simply go through the motions to avoid injuries and limit the minutes of players to give them extra rest. They will of course want to win but they have nothing to gain from blowing this team out! They have their eyes on the next game against Eastern conference rivals Wizards and will simply want to get the W and head there healthy. Giving less than a maximum effort means they will still likely win but are unlikly to cover the spread. Utah has also played the statistically tougher schedule this season having to play in the loaded Western conference. Most teams in the West are high-caliber opponents so the Jazz have already played against the best and often held their own.
The average sports bettor loves to jump on bandwagons and back the hotter team but while the Bulls have certainly been winning games; covering double digit spreads are an entirely different task! Chicago has an important game on deck when they travel to Washington DC on Friday. Having just played Houston and then having a big game against a conference rival up next, they may find themselves in a flat spot against Utah which opens the door for a less than solid performance. We believe the Jazz are catching the Bulls at an inopportune time and care more about this game than their counterparts. If Chicago get caught overlooking Utah, it could spell disaster for their backers. While we don't believe the Jazz will pull off the outright upset, we do feel they will be more competitive than most think and cover this generous number even if it's through the backdoor. In what could be a fairly low-scoring game, getting double-digits points can be extremely precious and should come into play.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Bulls are just 2-6 ATS after 3 or more consecutive wins.
- Jazz are 9-2 ATS when seeking revenge for a home loss this season!
- Jazz are also 7-1 ATS after allowing +105 points in last game!
- Bulls are 1-5 ATS against Northwest division opponents this season.
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