Chicago Bulls at Washington Wizards (-1.5, 195 o/u)
The Chicago Bulls (25-11, 14-4 away) stumbled on Wednesday night, falling 97-77 at home to the Utah Jazz. Not only did the Bulls shoot a season low 33.3% from the field, but Derek Rose had an off night scoring only seven points (3/15 shooting).
“We just wasn’t making any shots; I know I wasn’t making any shots,” Rose said. “Losing the way we did, it hurt.”
Considering the Bulls had been averaging 103.1 PPG, head coach Tom Thibodeau didn’t want to pin the blame on Rose, who has been struggling through injuries the last three years.
“When you get away from that competition for 2.5 years, it doesn’t come back in a week,” Thibodeau said. “You have to compete in practice, you have to compete getting yourself ready and you have to keep going.”
Rose and company better be ready to play tonight when the team travels east to take on the Washington Wizards (24-11, 15-4 home) at the Verizon Center. The Wizards have been dominant on defense in their last two games, allowing only 88 points on 42.9% shooting from the field.
Naturally, the hype going into this game is about the point guard matchup: Rose versus John Wall. Wall has averaged more than 21 points per game during his last six contests against the Bulls; Wall is also trumping Rose off the court, as well, leading the Eastern Conference in All-Star game votes.
“It’s kind of a statement game when we play these type of teams,” Wall said. “Compared to last year in the playoffs, we know they’ve had an edge and wanted to see their team completely healthy.”
The good news for the Wizards is the team will have the veteran presence of Paul Pierce back in action. The former Celtic has added valuable secondary scoring for the Wizards this year, averaging over 12 points per game in just 26 minutes of action. He was given the night off on Wednesday when Washington downed the Knicks, 101-91.
Tonight’s game is an early preview to the playoffs, with both teams wanting to up their game. That means both teams will be playing hard on defense, which also means take the under (195).
(Photo credit: Keith Allison (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode]. Photo may appear cropped.)