Los Angeles Clippers (-1, 204.5) at Chicago Bulls
Another post-Derek Rose era is beginning in Chicago.
This afternoon, the Bulls will soldier on without their oft-injured floor general as they welcome the L.A. Clippers to the United Center (1:00 PM Eastern Time)
The Bulls will have some reason for confidence tonight, though. Back in November, the team traveled to California without Rose and center Pau Gasol and left STAPLES Center with a 105-89 win. (And yes, they were playing the Clippers, not the Lakers.)
Shooting guard Jimmy Butler was huge for Chicago that night, scoring 22 points, while Mike Dunleavy chipped in with 19 for the shorthanded Bulls.
“We just proved what we’ve proven time and again with this team — it’s a pretty resilient group,” Mike Dunleavy said that night. “It doesn’t matter who’s out there for us. We’re going to come out and compete and give it everything we’ve got.”
Dunleavy’s words didn’t prove prophetic last Wednesday, however, as Chicago lost by 12 to Charlotte in their first game without Rose. On Friday, the Bulls managed to get by the Minnesota Timberwolves, 96-89. Again, it was Butler and Dunleavy leading the charge for the shorthanded team, scoring 28 and 21 apiece.
The win moved Chicago half a game up on Cleveland for top spot in the Central Division.
The Clippers won’t have much sympathy for the Rose-less Bulls, tonight. The team has had to play without leading-scorer Blake Griffin for the past two weeks after Griffin underwent elbow surgery.
Los Angeles has stayed on track without its star power forward though, going 5-3 in the last eight. On Friday, the team scored a huge road upset over the Memphis Grizzlies (97-79), getting huge performances from point guard Chris Paul (19 points, 13 assists, and four rebounds) and center Deandre Jordan (15 points, 22 rebounds, and three blocks).
Looking at the trends, the Clippers have beaten the Bulls in seven of the last ten head-to-head. They have also taken eight of ten from Chicago at the United Center, going 7-3 ATS in those ten.
Both teams know how to play without their centerpieces, but it’s Los Angeles that’s looked better sans Griffin lately. Consider the Clippers laying the point.
(Photo credit: Keith Allison from Owings Mills, USA (Joakim Noah) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)