The Bulls are rolling right now, with 8 wins in a row, covering the line 6 times in those 8 games. Orlando is coming after a surprising loss @ Charlotte, and is having mediocre performances, winning 3 games in their last 6. The Bulls are playing their 5th game in 7 days and fatigue might be an issue. I really have no idea if they want to set a record this season for the less losses, but I do think that with this condensed schedule, fatigue might be an issue. CJ Watson and Hamilton will be out for this game, and both of them are important pieces in Thibodeau's system. Orlando tends to play up to their competition, and I do believe the team wants to make a push in this game to try and convince Dwight that he can win in Orlando. Aside of the Bobcats loss, Orlando lost lately only against above average or elite teams (OKC, Miami twice, Atlanta twice, Clippers, Philly, Indiana) and managed to win against teams they were supposed to win. This isn't enough to keep Dwight there so this week is crucial for Orlando as they will play with Chicago, Indiana and Miami their next three games before the trade deadline.
Chicago has a great defense as I think everyone knows by now, but they also have a great offense, ranked 3rd in offensive efficiency, while Orlando is 12th. The Bulls have the 2nd D in the league when refering to defensive efficiency, while Orlando is #11. Orlando should be focusing on trading for an elite PG, because if they lose Dwight, imagine what kind of defense they'll have. Also, Orlando is an undisciplined team, ranked in the bottom half of the turnover ratio.
Orlando lives and dies by the 3. They are ranked 3rd in the league in 3 pointer %, but Chicago is right behind them, on 4th place. Magic is averaging the most 3 pointer attempts in the league, with a little over 26/game, while Chicago is efficient and isn't over using this shot, averaging 16/game. Both teams are defending the 3 pretty well, neither team allowing more than 35% from downtown. Dwight Howard is the most fouled player in the game, and is averaging a whopping 10.8 FT's per game but is having a 48.5% from the line.
Both teams are jump shooting teams, 66% of their possessions ending with a jump shot, but both of them are defending pretty well against other jump shooting teams, Chicago allowing 40% while Orlando allowing 42%. Orlando's inabilities to win against elite teams combined with Chicago's great D at home and a little fatigue that might now allow them to push the tempo can keep this game under the line.
My lean is UNDER 184.5.
What do you have here?