CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (18-38)
at CHICAGO BULLS (33-24)
Tip-off: Tuesday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: Chicago -8.5, Total: 187.5
Both the Cavaliers and the Bulls are looking to get back into the win column when they square off in Chicago on Tuesday night, but both teams will be missing their best player.
The Bulls have been dealing with the loss of Derrick Rose all season, but the Cavs will have to play this game without All-Star PG Kyrie Irving who has been dealing with a hyperextended right knee. Both teams are coming off losses, with Chicago’s being a 30-point road defeat against the Thunder on Sunday. These teams have met three times so far this season with the Bulls winning all three contests by double-digits. In fact, Chicago has won 11 straight regular-season games against the Cavaliers, and has covered each of the past seven meetings. But this game is different as Cleveland is 4-0 ATS in its past four games while the Bulls are an NBA-worst 7-21 ATS at home this season. They will most likely be playing without PG Kirk Hinrich (elbow) and PF Taj Gibson (knee) on Tuesday. Both teams should be tired for this game, with Cleveland playing its third game in four days, and the Bulls playing their fourth game in six days.
Can the Bulls cover the lofty spread at home? For the answer, connect to NBA Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. For NBA Best Bets, StatFox Scott is in the midst of a monster run, going 25-9 ATS (74%) since Feb. 3, and improving his record to an impressive 58% ATS (95-70-1) for the season. The experts are a collective 27-13 ATS (68%) in the past six days and are now 60% ATS (85-57) in the month of February. StatFox Gary is a sizzling 7-1 ATS (88%) since Feb. 20, and 67% ATS (16-8) for the month of February. StatFox Brian is 67% ATS (8-4) since the All-Star break, and StatFox Dave is 64% ATS (7-4) in the past six days. For NBA Totals, Scott is 4-1 (80%) in the past four days to raise his season mark to 56.3% (80-62) in Totals. Gary is 21-16 (57%) in NBA Totals since Jan. 25.
Cleveland had just won two straight games before coming up short in Miami on Sunday, losing 109-105 in a game the Heat were a 12-point favorite. Although the Cavs will miss Irving, he has certainly been bothered by his injury and has scored over 20 points just once while shooting only 41.5% from the field and 31.3% from three. These numbers are much lower than his 23.3 PPG on 46.8% FG and 42% threes on the season. One player that has stepped up during Irving’s slump is SG Dion Waiters. Over the past five games, the rookie is averaging 17.2 PPG on 56.3% shooting from the field. Waiters has been up-and-down this season, but he has also improved tremendously. Last game’s 26 points against the Heat is just a glimpse of what he is capable of doing. Irving's absence could also allow SG C.J. Miles (11.2 PPG) to get more minutes, especially following his 19-point outburst (5-of-9 threes) in just 21 minutes versus Miami. PF Tristan Thompson (11.2 PPG, 9.2 RPG) took advantage of a soft Heat interior and posted a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds. But in three games versus Chicago this season, Thompson has a pedestrian 10.3 PPG and 6.0 RPG.
Chicago is coming off of a horrible loss to the Thunder that was shown on national television. The Bulls lost by 30 points and were never in the game. One player who continued to fight for though was C Joakim Noah, who finished the game with eight points and nine rebounds. Over the past five games, the big man is averaging 10.8 PPG, 11.6 RPG and 2.2 BPG. Despite the fact that Chicago has lost three of its past five games, Noah is still playing at a high level inside. One area of concern for the Bulls should be the lack of involvement for SF Luol Deng. On the season, Luol Deng is averaging 14.6 shot attempts per game, but over the past five games, he is averaging just 12.2 FGA per game. The Bulls will need to do a better job of getting him involved because without injured PG Derrick Rose, Deng is their best offensive weapon. He's had only one game with 20+ points in the past nine contests (12.3 PPG on 37% FG), including scoring in single-digits in two of his past five games.