The Orlando Magic will look to put an end to the Chicago Bulls five-game winning streak when they host the Bulls on Friday night. Chicago is 6-1 overall with their only loss coming at Golden State back on Dec. 26. What has really been impressive about the Bulls start, is the fact that they have played five of their first seven on the road. The Magic come in with a 5-2 record, but have played a pretty easy schedule. Their best win came against Houston at home, while their other four wins were against the likes of New Jersey, Charlotte, Toronto, and Washington. Let’s take a look at my NBA picks for tonight’s game.
Chicago Bulls @ Orlando Magic 8:00pm ET
The Bulls make their living on the defensive side of the floor, and there is no doubt the focus of Tom Thibodeau’s defense will be on Dwight Howard. Chicago doesn’t have a lot of big guys who can score the basketball, but they have a number of post players who specialize in defense. That should allow Chicago to rotate fresh bodies in against Howard and really make him work for his shot. One of the Magic’s biggest strengths is dumping the ball inside to Howard and having him kick it back out for an open 3-pointer. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Bulls didn’t let Howard try and win this game on his own and take away the outside shot.
The Magic aren’t a very defensive oriented team, but if they want any chance of beating the Bulls tonight they have to step up their play on that side of the ball. Chicago doesn’t have a lot of offensive weapons, but they have one of the most dynamic players in the game in Derrick Rose. Orlando really doesn’t have a guy who can shut Rose down, but they might catch a bit of a break. Rose injured his left elbow in the Bulls last game against Atlanta.
Looking at the NBA odds for this game, oddsmakers have the Magic favored by 1-point over the Bulls with the total set at 182. From the total it seems pretty clear that oddsmakers expect this game to be pretty low scoring. Chicago is clearly the better defensive team and I expect them to turn up the defense in the 4th quarter and find a way to win this game. The injury to Rose is a concern, but he has played through injuries and performed at a high level before. Orlando has lost three straight to the Bulls dating back to last season, and simply don’t have the talent to compete with the elite teams in the NBA.
Chicago 93, Orlando 88