LA Clippers (36-25) at Chicago (31-30)
When: Saturday, March 4th 2017
Where: United Center, Chicago, IL
Time: 8:35 ET | TV: ABC
The surging Chicago Bulls, who are beating some of the league’s best recently, will entertain the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night on ABC. The Bulls have won five of their last six contests including wins over Cleveland, Boston, Toronto, and most recently, Golden State. Chicago’s run has them tied for sixth in the Eastern Conference standings after it looked like they were going to trade away their leading scorer before last week’s trade deadline. Jimmy Butler is averaging a team-high 23.9 points overall and scored 22 against Golden State last time out as Chicago held the Warriors to 38.6% from the field. Wade is averaging 19.1 on the season while forward Bobby Portis has stepped up lately, averaging 12.8 to go along with 7.4 rebounds in the last five games. The Bulls are still allowing more points than they’ve scored despite a 31-30 record, but they are ranked 7th in the league in defense (103.1), but they do allow opponents to shoot 46.3% from the field. The Bulls are 15-13 against teams with a .500 record or better and 16-17 versus teams with losing records. Chicago hits the road after Saturday to face Detroit and Orlando before returning home to play the high-scoring Houston Rockets.
The Clippers are going in the opposite direction despite finally being healthy. They have lost four of their last five games after a 112-101 setback at Milwaukee on Friday in which they trailed by 19 at halftime. Los Angeles has allowed 116.6 points per game over the last five – more than 10 above its season average (105.1). Los Angeles shot 56.3% from the field against Milwaukee, but turned the ball over 23 times – five each by Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford – which led to 41 points for the Bucks. Point guard Chris Paul is averaging 16.8 points and 9.5 assists in four games since returning from a thumb injury and Griffin has recorded at least 20 points in 11 of the last 15 games. Guard Austin Rivers has stepped up lately, averaging 14.6 points over his last eight games, while Crawford has slumped to 5.5 per game over the past four. DeAndre Jordan is 16-of-22 from the field over the last four games and is shooting 69.8% for the season – tops in the NBA. The Clippers will put in the miles over the next few days, flying home to face Boston, then going right back to Minnesota to start a two-game trip.
The Clippers should not be favored in this game at all. I know they’re healthy, but they just don’t seem to play well together when all their stars are on the court. Chicago is on a roll right now and I’m staying on the bandwagon.
Pick: Bulls +1.5
HEAD TO HEAD
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