CHICAGO BULLS (17-13)
at MIAMI HEAT (22-8)
Tip-off: Friday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: Miami -8, Total: 191
The Heat are looking to keep their place atop the Eastern Conference standings with a win over visiting Chicago on Friday night.
Since falling to both Detroit and Milwaukee, the Miami has won two straight games SU, scoring 115.5 PPG with just 8.0 TOPG. But the Heat are riding a four-game ATS winless skid. Chicago has won two of its past three games SU, but is 0-4-1 ATS in the past five games. Bulls C Joakim Noah (illness) missed Wednesday's 96-94 win at Orlando, but he is expected to start in this game.
Can the Heat cover this lofty spread on Friday night? For the answer, connect to NBA Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The experts have posted a stellar 21-12-1 ATS (64%) mark in the past six days and are 41-24-1 ATS (63%) since Dec. 22. StatFox Brian is 13-4 ATS (77%) during this span, while StatFox Dave is 10-7 ATS (59%) over the same timeframe. StatFox Scott is 8-1 ATS in the past six days, giving him a season Best Bets mark of 57% ATS (46-35), with Brian (55.4% ATS) and StatFox Gary (54% ATS) not far behind. The four experts are collectively 53.1% ATS (196-173-11) on Best Bets for the season.
Without Noah on the court in Orlando, PF Carlos Boozer stepped up with a mammoth effort, scoring 31 points (13-of-22 FG) and pulling down 11 boards. That was his third straight double-double, as Boozer is averaging 21.7 PPG and 12.3 RPG during this surge. SF Luol Deng was struggling the past few weeks, but he too is starting to heat up, averaging 21.5 PPG on 17-of-35 shooting with 7.5 RPG over the past two games. His defense continues to be superb, as he has done a great job making it difficult on opposing teams’ best scorers. Like Boozer, PF Taj Gibson also filled in nicely for Noah on Wednesday with 21 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks in 45 minutes of action. His play off the bench will be key for Chicago against Miami.
Miami has had a number of close calls the past two weeks, including last game's overtime win over the Mavericks. After overtime, it appeared that the Heat were tired of messing around as they were able to pull away and win by 10 points. Despite Miami's 0-4 ATS skid, SF LeBron James has been on fire with 32.3 PPG (56% FG), 8.0 RPG, 8.0 APG and 3.0 SPG during this span. He has scored 20+ points in all 30 games this season. SG Dwyane Wade has also been playing very well for Miami, with six straight games of 20+ points. He's averaging 23.8 PPG on 49% FG during this stretch. The Chicago native has averaged 22.2 PPG and 5.5 APG in his 30-game career versus the Bulls. PF Chris Bosh is averaging 17.0 PPG on 58% FG in his past nine games, but has just one double-digit rebounding output in this stretch. The Heat will need more out of their bench if they’re going to break out of their funk, as their big three has been performing up to and maybe even beyond the team’s expectations.