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March 16, 2016 (4:00 PM ET)

Take Washington Wizards at -5 spread against Chicago Bulls for 3% of the bankroll.

Derrick Rose will likely take the court for Chicago tonight and yet his side have been installed as a sizable underdog in this contest. There are good reasons for that. The Wizards opened as 6-point favorites over their opponents despite owning an inferior 31-35 record! In our opinion, that's NOT a Vegas mistake, it's warranted. That's because Pau Gasol's absence presents a matchup problem for the Bulls. The 35-year old former All-Star is not only a skilled player whom Fred Hoiberg likes to run offensive plays for, he's also a strong defensive presence and gives Chicago some much needed size at the 'Center' position. Joakim Noah is out for the season and that robs the Bulls of a legitimate rim-protector and defensive force in the paint. Gasol doesn't have the same defensive intensity but is at least a tall towering presence to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Marcin Gortat and Nene of Washington. Unfortunately for the Bulls, he isn't available tonight and that means Taj Gibson will likely start at the 5 spot. Gibson is a hardworking professional but he's much more of a power-forward than a center and is undersized in that matchup. To make matters worse, he admitted to the media that he's experiencing tightness in his hamstring and is hardly 100%. The Wizards have a number of players that can post-up and do damage in the paint and will make that an important part of their strategy tonight.

This is a must-win game for Randy Wittman's squad! If they want to make the playoffs, they have no margin for error, especially in a home game like this against a direct rival. The Bulls are the team they are chasing and given that they are already 2.5 games behind them, failure to win this game would be a major blow to their post-season aspirations! On the other hand, a victory at the Verizon Center will see them pull a full game back and leave them with a realistic chance of making it. We believe they will be the more desperate team in this contest and that sense of urgency should see them create some separation in the second half.

The Bulls currently occupy the 8th and final playoff spot in the East and need wins of their own to remain there in the standings but even if they lost this game, it wouldn't be a major blow. That's because immediately after this game, they fly back to Chicago to open a 4-game homestand against some very beatable opponents. The Bulls host the Nets tomorrow night and that's followed by games against the Kings, Jazz and Knicks. They will probably be installed as 'favorites' in all 4 of those games and quite significant ones in at least two of them! The fact that they have a relatively easier schedule coming up means they might just be a bit more 'relax' than the chasing Wizards tonight. Let's also not forget that Chicago is coming off a road win in Toronto which sets them up for a potential let-down tonight. The Bulls have won only 12 of 32 games away from home this season so to expect them to win back to back ones is a bit much and something that hasn't happened in over a month!

John Wall and company snapped their 5-game losing streak to blow out the Pistons on Monday night. Detroit, another team that they were chasing, right above them in the standings, felt their wrath and was routed 124-81! That blowout victory was exactly what the doctor ordered for a squad that was beginning to doubt itself. A tough West coast trip had taken away their confidence but a decisive win over a direct playoff revived their hopes. The fact that this game was completely out of reach for the Pistons also meant that the coaching staff wisely limited the minutes of their star players while giving backups some much needed play time to get them in optimal game shape. As a result, the team from DC has a deep and healthy squad with a number of players capable of contributing at every position tonight. Look for this ambitious squad to make the Eastern conference playoff picture even more interesting by inching closer to a top 8 spot in the standings.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Chicago is just 2-8 ATS as a road underdog of 3.5 to 6 points!
  • Bulls had lost 8 straight road games prior to winning in Toronto on Monday!
  • Chicago has covered the spread only twice in 10 attempts following a win as an underdog.

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