SAN ANTONIO SPURS (40-12)
at CHICAGO BULLS (30-20)
Tip-off: Monday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: Chicago -2, Total: 191
The Bulls play their first home game in two weeks when the Spurs continue their long road trip Monday in Chicago.
San Antonio is 2-1 (SU and ATS) so far on its annual rodeo road trip, crushing Brooklyn 111-86 on Sunday thanks to a 59% FG clip and just five turnovers. The Bulls are in the midst of a brutal stretch of schedule that has them playing 10 road games in a 12-game stretch, with the only two tilts at United Center coming against the No. 1 seeds in each conference, San Antonio and Miami. The Bulls are just 4-4 (SU and ATS) in their past eight games, but they did upset Utah 93-89 on Friday to finish off their road trip. And they are also 4-1 (SU and ATS) in the past five meetings with the Spurs, winning two straight home meetings by 8.5 PPG. Both teams have multiple key injuries, as San Antonio PF Tim Duncan (knee) and SG Manu Ginobili (hamstring) are both doubtful, while Chicago will definitely be without PG Kirk Hinrich (arm), with SG Marco Belinelli (foot) questionable for this game.
Can the injury-depleted Spurs steal a victory at United Center? For the answer, connect to NBA Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. For NBA Best Bets, the experts are a collective 26-13 ATS (67%) in the past six days and are 42-25 ATS (63%) in the month of February. StatFox Scott is 12-1 ATS (92.3%) since Feb. 3, improving his record to an impressive 57% ATS (82-62-1) for the season. StatFox Gary is 5-2 ATS (83%) over the past six days, while StatFox Brian is 6-4 ATS (60%) over this same timeframe. For NBA Totals, the experts are an outstanding 40-25-1 (62%) in the past 17 days with Gary at 16-6 (73%) and Brian going 13-8-1 (62%) since Jan. 25. For the season, Scott is a whopping 57% (73-56) in Totals, while Gary is a profitable 53.2% (67-59-4).
San Antonio's offense has been extremely efficient all season with 104.4 PPG (4th in NBA), 48.8% FG (2nd in league) and an NBA-leading 25.1 APG. The Spurs also pace the league with 103.7 PPG on 47.6% FG away from home. So far on this road trip, the team is averaging 108.0 PPG on 50% FG in the three games. Star PG Tony Parker (20.7 PPG, 7.7 APG) is having a phenomenal season, and is averaging 25.3 PPG on 58% FG with 9.5 APG in the past 11 contests, scoring at least 19 points in every game. And despite the Bulls being a great defensive franchise, Parker has posted 17.8 PPG on 52% FG with 6.4 APG in 20 career meetings with Chicago. With Duncan (17.3 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 2.7 BPG) and Ginobili (12.5 PPG, 4.5 APG, 3.7 RPG) both out, C Tiago Splitter (10.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG) is the next highest scorer for the Spurs. He has 15 straight games of 10+ points, averaging 13.5 PPG on a whopping 63% FG, plus 8.0 RPG during this stretch. SG Danny Green (10.2 PPG, 3.2 RPG) has caught fire, scoring 17.8 PPG on 62% FG (63% threes) in the past five games. SF Kawhi Leonard (9.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG) is also starting to find a groove in his past nine contests, averaging 13.2 PPG (17-of-36 threes) and 6.7 RPG during this stretch. But PG Gary Neal (9.6 PPG) has shot terribly in his past 11 games, averaging 6.8 PPG on 33% FG and 10-of-37 threes (27%).
Chicago boasts the third-best scoring defense in the NBA (91.7 PPG) and also ranks third in FG Pct. defense (43.3% FG). However, these numbers have risen to 109.3 PPG and 53% FG in the past three games. But the offense has been decent during this road trip with 96.0 PPG, which is considerably higher than its 93.3 PPG before the long journey. The scoring is led by SF Luol Deng (17.0 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 3.1 APG), but he's been underperforming since returning from a hamstring injury, averaging a mere 15.1 PPG on 36% FG in the past seven games. He's also shot a low percentage (41%) when facing the Spurs since 2010. PF Carlos Boozer (15.8 PPG, 9.3 RPG) missed the first three games of this road trip due to a hamstring injury, but after playing sparingly (22.5 MPG) in his first two games back, Boozer logged 32 minutes in Friday's win at Utah, scoring 19 points. With PG Kirk Hinrich (7.0 PPG, 5.2 APG) out indefinitely with an arm injury, PG Nate Robinson (11.9 PPG, 4.0 APG) has stepped up his game in the starting role, averaging 16.6 PPG (14-of-26 threes) and 8.6 APG in the past five games, logging 38.8 MPG in these contests. With SG Marco Belinelli (9.7 PPG) bothered by an ankle injury, Chicago is impatiently waiting for SG Richard Hamilton (10.7 PPG) to heat up. Hamilton has not surpassed 10 points in any of his past nine games, averaging a paltry 6.6 PPG on 36% FG.