Thursday, January 17 at 9:00 PM ET
Coverage: NBA League Pass
Two teams desperate to get back on track clash when the Chicago Bulls visit the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night. The Bulls have lost their last eight games while the Nuggets are coming off their worst loss of the season, a 142-111 home beatdown against the Warriors that cost them first place in the Western Conference.
Bulls put up a fight
The Bulls played well in their last two losses, 110-102 against the Jazz and 107-100 against the Lakers but the Nuggets will be angry after the Warriors crushed them at home. Last Tuesday the Lakers had a 94-76 with 4:26 left before the Bulls made a late flurry to get within 103-98 in the final minute, proving that there's fight in them when they come together.
Jabari Parker got back into the team's rotation and he led the way with 18 points in 17 minutes off the bench and Lauri Markkanen scored 17 but the Bulls need more from their star Zach LaVine, who finished with just 10 points on 4 of 11 shooting, although he did record eight assists. The Bulls also need to start the game better, they were just 8 of 28 from the field in the first quarter, their second-worst opening 12 minutes of the season (they were 8 of 29 in a 119-94 home loss against the Timberwolves on December 26).
Chicago made just 2 of 14 3-pointers in the first half but they were 7 of 17 from beyond the arc in the second half. Better shot selection to start the game will go a long way, they just can't afford to go behind early against a team like the Nuggets.
Nuggets struggling on defense
The Nuggets are not playing particularly well as of late, losing two of their last three games and their only win was by just three points, 116-113 against the Trail Blazers. Denver ranks 6th in the NBA, allowing 106.3 points per game but their opponents have scored 100 points or more in nine of their last 10 games and the Bulls have many players who can score consistently.
The Warriors had an NBA-record 51 points in the first quarter of Tuesday's 142-111 win in Denver, hitting 10 of their 21 3-pointers and how the Bulls and the Nuggets start this game can go a long way in determining the outcome.
The Chicago Bulls are:
5-2 ATS in their last seven games playing on 1 days rest
35-16 ATS in their last 51 Thursday games
The Denver Nuggets are:
4-9 ATS in their last 13 games following a straight up loss
4-9 ATS in their last 13 games overall
3-7 ATS in their last 10 home games against a team with a losing road record
2-6 ATS in their last eight games following an ATS loss
2-7 ATS in their last nine games when their opponent scores 100 points or more in their previous game
The Nuggets will come out angry, looking to make a statement after being dismantled by the Warriors but the Suns were able to beat them 102-93 without their best player Devin Booker and the Bulls are finally healthy and with Jabari Parker getting an opportunity to prove himself. I don't see the Bulls winning this game but I can't back the Nuggets here because of their poor execution on defense lately.
NBA Pick: Bulls +13.5 (-110) at Jazz Sports
Check odds here: http://bit.ly/2RMxhhA