CHICAGO BULLS (34-26)
at SAN ANTONIO SPURS (47-14)
Tip-off: Wednesday, 9:05 p.m. ET
Line: San Antonio -8, Total: 190.5
Two injury-depleted teams will slug it out on Wednesday when the red-hot Spurs host the Bulls.
Chicago has played without its best player all season with PG Derrick Rose recovering from a torn ACL, but the team will also be missing PF Taj Gibson (knee), SG Richard Hamilton (back) and PG Kirk Hinrich (foot) on Wednesday. The Spurs are also playing without a thin roster with star PG Tony Parker (ankle) out and both C Boris Diaw (knee) and SG Gary Neal (calf) questionable. Despite the injuries, Bulls have covered three straight games, and are 5-1 ATS in their past six road games to improve to a whopping 18-10-1 ATS (17-12 SU) away from home this season. Washington is the only NBA team that has been a better road bet (17-9-1 ATS). San Antonio has won 19 of its past 22 games, including back-to-back blowouts on its current six-game homestand. The Spurs began March with a 130-102 drubbing of the Kings, and then crushed the Pistons by a 114-75 score on Sunday. Chicago is 4-2 (SU and ATS) in this series over the past four seasons, but San Antonio destroyed the Bulls 103-98 on Feb. 11 at United Center despite not having Parker, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili or Stephen Jackson.
Can the Spurs remain hot with another lopsided victory? For the answer, connect to NBA Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. Both StatFox Gary -- who is 7-0 ATS in March and 83% ATS (15-3) since Feb. 20 -- and StatFox Scott (30-16 ATS, 65% since Feb. 3) have been on fire in NBA Best Bets. Scott is now 57% ATS (100-77-1) for the season, while Gary is 54% ATS (78-67-4). StatFox Brian is also heating up with a 78% ATS (7-2) mark in his past six days, and a 60% ATS record (15-10) since the All-Star break. Since February began, the experts are a collective 59% ATS (110-77), including 63% ATS (17-10) in March. For NBA Totals, Scott is catching fire with a 9-3-1 (75%) mark since Feb. 22 to raise his season record to 57% (85-64-1) in Totals.
Chicago has the third-worst offense in the NBA with just 92.7 PPG, but the club also ranks third in the league in scoring defense at 91.3 PPG, holding teams to 43.3% FG on 33.8% threes (both 3rd in NBA). PF Carlos Boozer (15.5 PPG, 9.2 RPG) is coming off a subpar game Sunday at Indiana with just six points on 3-of-9 shooting in a season-low 17 minutes. However, he was outstanding in his previous three games, averaging 22.7 PPG (57% FG) and 8.3 RPG. Boozer's numbers weren't terrible in the loss to San Antonio last month (13 pts, 8 reb), but he committed three turnovers and tallied a game-worst minus-24 rating. SF Luol Deng (16.4 PPG, 6.6 RPG) shot poorly in the earlier meeting with the Spurs (4-of-13 FG), but still finished with a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds. But he hasn't really picked up the pace since that game with a pedestrian 13.6 PPG on 42% FG and 32% threes in nine games. C Joakim Noah (12.1 PPG, 11.4 RPG) has been a beast lately with three straight double-doubles, averaging 19.3 PPG, 13.7 RPG and a mammoth 5.3 BPG during this surge. Noah took only five shots in the loss to San Antonio on Feb. 11, but dominated the glass with 15 rebounds (five offensive) and dished out five assists. PG Nate Robinson (11.7 PPG, 4.1 APG) scored a team-high 20 points with seven assists and three steals in last month's loss to the Spurs, but didn't play much defense as he sported a minus-22 rating. Robinson has been in a scoring funk over his past five games, making just 28% of his shots for 9.0 PPG.
San Antonio's offense is as efficient as any in the league, scoring 104.8 PPG (4th in NBA) on 48.8% FG (2nd in league), 38.1% threes (4th in NBA) and a league-leading 25.3 APG. PF Tim Duncan (16.7 PPG, 9.7 RPG) has ripped off three straight double-doubles with 16.0 PPG and 10.7 RPG during this streak despite logging just 29.0 MPG. He also has 22 double-doubles in 27 career games versus Chicago, averaging 19.8 PPG and 12.2 RPG. SG Manu Ginobili (12.4 PPG, 4.5 APG) has scored a healthy 16.6 PPG in his past five meetings with Chicago, but has shot just 38% FG during this stretch. SF Kawhi Leonard (11.0 PPG, 5.4 RPG) is currently riding an eight-game streak of scoring 10+ points, averaging 15.4 PPG on 49% FG during this ride. Leonard exploded in Chicago last month with a game-high 26 points on 11-of-18 shooting, plus a game-high +24 rating. SG Danny Green (10.7 PPG) had a well-rounded effort at United Center on Feb. 11 with 18 points, six rebounds, three assists and a +22 rating. He's also been a huge scorer for this team with 15.3 PPG on 53% FG (and 53% threes) and 92% FT over his past 14 games. C Tiago Splitter (10.4 PPG, 5.9 RPG) has shown a strong improvement in the past six weeks with 11.7 PPG (58% FG) and 6.9 RPG in his past 17 games. Splitter had an extremely efficient game in the win over the Bulls last month with 16 points on 5-of-7 FG and 6-of-6 FT, while finishing with five rebounds, three assists, two steals and a +23 rating in his 33 minutes.