CHICAGO BULLS (22-15)
at BOSTON CELTICS (20-18)
Tip-off: Friday, 7:05 p.m. ET
Line: Boston -3.5, Total: 181.5
The Bulls are going for their third straight victory when they head to Boston to take on a Celtics team wrapping up a five-game homestand.
Boston had won six straight games (5-1 ATS) before a bad game against New Orleans in which they lost by 12 at home. Chicago, on the other hand, has now won two straight, crushing Atlanta 97-58 on Monday and then edging Toronto 107-105 in overtime on Wednesday. These clubs have split two meetings this season, but the Bulls are 7-3 ATS versus Boston over the past three seasons, and they should have SF Luol Deng (hamstring) available for this game. Boston is dealing with a couple of injuries as SG Avery Bradley (ribs) is questionable and SF Chris Wilcox (thumb) is doubtful.
Who will win this Eastern Conference clash on Friday night? For the answer, connect to NBA Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. StatFox Brian is 24-14 ATS (63.2%) on NBA Best Bets since Dec. 23, giving him a 55% ATS mark (63-52-3) for the season. StatFox Scott has a season Best Bets mark of 52.4% ATS (54-49), with Gary at 52% ATS (48-45-4) for the season. The four experts are collectively 51.1% ATS (240-230-11) on Best Bets for the season. For NBA Totals, Scott is 3-0 in the past three days, boosting his impressive season NBA Totals record to 56-40 (58%). Brian has gone 4-1 in NBA Totals since Sunday.
Chicago scores just 93.9 PPG (25th in NBA), but ranks third in scoring defense at 91.7 PPG. PF Carlos Boozer has been playing like an All-Star, averaging 22.0 PPG and 10.4 RPG on 53.1% FG over the past five games. He was dominant against the Raptors on Wednesday, scoring 36 points on a remarkable 16-of-24 FG, while grabbing 12 rebounds. SG Rip Hamilton added 15 points and five assists for the Bulls in what was his best game since returning from a foot injury. C Joakim Noah has really struggled to make shots over the past five games (32.7% FG), but has continued to produce in other areas, averaging 12.6 RPG, 1.6 BPG, 1.0 SPG and 2.4 APG over that stretch.
Boston is coming off of a brutal 90-78 loss against the Hornets at home, and one of the main reasons that game got out of hand was sloppy point guard play. Itís not often a game can be blamed on PG Rajon Rondo, but he committed five turnovers himself and scored just seven points on 3-of-8 FG. But for the season, Rondo leads the NBA with 11.2 APG and ranks eighth with a 3.04 Ast/TO ratio. The Celtics struggled on the glass like they did all season on Wednesday, grabbing only 33 rebounds compared to the Hornetsí 48 boards. One of the bright spots for Boston was SG Jason Terry off the bench, who added 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting. Terry had just three points (1-of-7 FG) in the two games prior to the New Orleans loss. SF Paul Pierce will need to score the ball more consistently for Boston. In the past five games he has scored 19+ points three times, but he also has games where he has scored just seven and 12 on Wednesday with a paltry 5-of-16 FG clip.