Washington Wizards at Chicago Bulls (-1- ) 8:05 ET
The Washington Wizards travel from New Orleans (where they beat the Pels last night 109-89) to Chicago to face the Bulls in a prime time ESPN broadcast at 8:05 ET. These teams met earlier in the season with Washington emerging with a (114-100) victory as 8 point dog on January 11th on this United Center Court. That was an impressive victory, as it was Washington, who was the injured team that night, while Chicago was at full health.
Tonight’s line reflects that it is now Washington who is the healthier team, while Chicago has multiple injuries. Why else would the Bulls be favored by less than the home court value, when they are 29-26 SU, while Washington is 26-29, and is playing unrested?
Chicago has a myriad of problems. On the current injury list is leading scorer Jimmy Butler (knee), along with key interior contributors Noah and Mirotic. Their absence is one of the reasons why the Bulls limped into the Break at 1-7 SU. Even though Chicago has won against both Toronto and the Lakers in the 2nd half of the season, there are still plenty of issues. The defensive era of former HC Thibodaux is in the rear view mirror with the Bulls allowing 8 PPG more per game than they did last year. New HC Hoiberg is clearly a more offensive minded leader, making the Bulls more entertaining to watch but less successful. With quickly aging PG Rose on the downside of his career, there are plenty of concerns for this thin Chicago roster.
On the other bench is a Washington team who is on the rise. Forced to play 3 games in 3 nights out of the Break, due to a weather makeup game with Utah, Washington recorded victories over Utah and Detroit, before falling as expected at Miami in the 3 in 3 scenario. But, the bounce at New Orleans last night indicates this now healthy Washington team is ready to make a second half surge and challenge for a playoff position in an Eastern Conference playoff queue that has 9 teams, no more than 6 games apart in the loss column. The positive addition of Markieff Morris could play a big part in the success of the Wiz down the stretch.