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Will the Chicago Bulls Miss the Playoffs?

Chicago Bulls Bobby Portis

The Chicago Bulls entered the 2015-16 NBA campaign expected to challenge the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Eastern Conference crown, but as the calendar turns to March they’re in a fight just to make the playoffs. What happened?

The Bulls (30-28) sit tied with the Charlotte Hornets and Detroit Pistons for the eighth and final postseason spot in the East and are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in two years.


Why the Raptors Could Win the East

Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan Cory Joseph Kyle Lowry

To casual NBA fans, the Cleveland Cavaliers are the unquestioned top team in the Eastern Conference. Any club that features LeBron James is going to be a perennial championship contender, and when you throw in talents like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, it’s easy for many to pencil the Cavs into the NBA Finals already. But when you dig beneath the surface, things are not going as smoothly as they should be in Ohio, which presents a few interesting options for hoops bettors.


Walton Favored to be Next Knicks Coach

Luke Walton

To put it nicely, the New York Knicks have not been the most consistent franchise in the NBA when it comes to putting a solid product on the floor in recent years. Far from it, in fact. But when the axe fell on ex-head coach Derek Fisher last month, a lucrative position opened up in a market that’s surely going to have no shortage of suitors this offseason.


Warriors Cruising to Covers vs Hawks

Al Horford Klay Thompson

The Golden State Warriors are used to running through the rest of the NBA, but there’s one Eastern Conference team they’ve been extremely profitable against: the Atlanta Hawks. In Golden State’s last eight matchups with Atlanta, they’ve gone 7-1 SU and 6-2 ATS. The squads will renew acquaintances Tuesday in Oakland.

Shark Bites
  • The total has gone UNDER in the Hawks' last five games with one day off between games.
  • The Warriors are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games as a favorite of 11.5 or more.
  • The total has gone under in seven of the Hawks' last 10 games against the Warriors.

Warriors’ sharpshooter Stephen Curry is listed as questionable for the tilt with an ankle injury, which should provide some relief to Hawks backers. “Chef Curry” is coming off three-straight 40-point performances including a jaw-dropping last-second three-pointer from way outside to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in overtime on Saturday.

“We’re not going to do anything crazy, obviously,” head coach Steve Kerr told reporters regarding Curry’s availability tonight. “But if he’s healthy enough to go, we’ll play him.”

The Hawks’ stellar defense simply isn’t translating to wins over the last few weeks. Atlanta has the best defensive rating in the NBA (95.8 points per 100 possessions) in the last 20 games, however they’ve gone just 10-10 SU and ATS during that span.

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Bulls-Heat Matchup is Trending UNDER

Pau Gasol Goran Dragic

UNDER bettors have been loving the Miami Heat all season long, and for good reason. The Heat are the top UNDER team in the NBA at 21-37 O/U due to its relatively low 96.9 points per game and 96.7 points allowed per contest. Tonight Goran Dragic and company will tangle with the Chicago Bulls, which means totals bettors should once again be on high alert. The UNDER has paid out in five of the previous six meetings between the clubs.

Shark Bites
  • The Heat are 3-0 SU and ATS in their last three games after winning the previous game in a matchup.
  • The Bulls are 0-5 SU and 1-4 ATS in their last five games on the road.
  • The Bulls are 3-1 SU and ATS in their last four games with two days off between games.

The Bulls have spent the last two months transitioning from an Eastern Conference contender to one that’s on the verge of missing the playoffs. Chicago was just 2.5 games behind Cleveland for first place in the East on January 7, but have gone 8-16 SU since and are now tied with Charlotte and Detroit for the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference at 30-28 SU. Simply put, rookie head coach Fred Hoiberg’s offensive system has not translated to the pros, and it’s hurting the pockets of Bulls backers.

Meanwhile, things are trending upwards in South Beach. The Heat have won nine of their last 10 against Eastern Conference squads. That stretch started on January 7 when Miami topped Chicago 89-84 while holding the Bulls to just 39.8 percent shooting. Veteran shooting guard Dwane Wade turned back the clock in that game in the form of a game-high 28 points.

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Can Bettors Trust the Hawkeyes?

The struggling Iowa Hawkeyes look to get their feet on the ground when they visit the Indiana Hoosiers Tuesday. The Hawkeyes have been a pit for bettors lately as they have failed to cover in five consecutive games. Despite this, Iowa has been a consistently good play when they take on Indiana, as the Hawkeyes are 16-6 ATS in the past 22 matchups between these two teams.

Indiana is in the midst of a ridiculously difficult stretch to end their season that features five ranked opponents through their final seven games. That stretch kicked off with a victory over Iowa in mid-February in a game that saw five different Hoosiers score double-digit points. Indiana’s defense has been amazing recently as they have held their past three opponents to an average of 61.3 points per game.

Iowa, who was one of the dominant forces in basketball earlier this season, comes into this game on a three-game losing streak. Those losses have seen the Hawkeyes score a measly 66 ppg while shooting under 40 percent. Iowa will need to see some secondary scoring if they want to end their slump as their bench has scored a combined 24 points in the past three games.

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Sooners Faring Well Against Baylor

After starting the season strong, the Oklahoma Sooners are just trying to straighten themselves out ahead of March Madness. Oklahoma could have a chance to get the ball rolling in the right direction when they face Baylor, a team they have historically fared well against, Tuesday. The Sooners have won 23 of the past 30 games between these two teams, while also proving to be profitable for bettors with a 7-2 ATS record in the past nine against the Bears.  

Oklahoma has lived by the long ball and now it appears they may be dying by it. The Sooners, who still hold the best three-point shooting percentage in the country, has hit just 33.3 percent of their shots from beyond the arc in their past five games (2-3 SU). The Sooners two victories in their past five games are more attributed to the defensive end as West Virginia and Oklahoma State were held to 62 and 49 points respectively.

If Baylor wants to continue Oklahoma’s fall from grace, they will need to tighten up their perimeter defense. The Bears, who have allowed opponents to shoot a Big 12-high 40.9 percent from beyond the arc, allowed the Sooners to torch them for 16 trays when these teams last met. With Rico Gathers struggling with illness as of late, sophomore Jonathan Motley has stepped up as the Baylor’s first look down low. Motley has averaged 20.3 points while shooting 61.5 percent in the past four games.

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Hot Predators Host Reeling Stars Tuesday

Mike Fisher Pekka Rinne Nashville Predators NHL

The Central Division might be the best in hockey and two of its playoff-bound teams are set to square off when the Dallas Stars visit the Nashville Predators Tuesday night.

Shark Bites
  • The Predators are 10-25 in their last 35 games versus the Central Division.
  • The Stars are 6-2 SU in their last eight road games.
  • The Stars are 1-4 SU in their last five games following a loss.

Online book Bovada is presently offering the Preds at -145 in moneyline markets while the Stars are +115. The total is currently tabbed at 5.5 with OVER 5.5 goals at -110 and UNDER 5.5 goals at -120.

The Predators enter Tuesday’s action as one of the hottest teams in the NHL, carrying a four-game winning streak into the meeting with their Central Division rivals. Most recently, Nashville posted a 5-0 win on home ice over the St. Louis Blues back on Saturday and have had a couple of days off to enjoy their recent run of success.

Interestingly, the Preds have not been at their best when they have had two days off in between games. They have gone just 2-7 SU in their last nine games with two days off in between. Certainly an angle for Preds backers to keep in mind.

The Stars are trending in the opposite direction as they have now lost three-straight games following Monday’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings. They are still tied with the Chicago Blackhawks atop the Central with 83 points, but have been dreadful of late, posting just one win in their last seven games overall.

A silver lining for Stars backers, however, is that they have won each of the last four meetings with the Preds. It could be a good night for the Stars to get back in the win column.

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Capitals-Penguins Renew Rivalry Tuesday

Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Alex Ovechkin Washington Capitals NHL

Once upon a time, Alexander Ovechkin versus Sidney Crosby was the biggest rivalry in the NHL. While that battle has lost a little bit of its sheen over the past couple of seasons, the duel between two of the league’s biggest names might be undergoing a bit of a renaissance lately. The superstars square off once again as the Washington Capitals host the Pittsburgh Penguins Tuesday night.

Shark Bites
  • The Penguins are 1-4 SU in their last five games versus teams with winning records.
  • The Capitals are 18-3 SU in their last 21 games at home.
  • The Penguins are 10-4 SU in their last 14 games against the Capitals.

The Caps have been the Golden State Warriors of the NHL this season, dominating opponents and headlines since the campaign began. They are 14 points up on their nearest competitor at the top of the Eastern Conference standings and sit 22 points ahead of the Penguins entering Tuesday’s action.

Ovechkin in particular caught fire in the month of February, tallying a dozen goals and 16 points in 13 games during the month. He now leads the league with 40 goals – four up Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Penguins have begun heating up of late and bring a two-game winning streak into D.C. Tuesday night. They have provided bettors value when playing in the second game of back-to-backs since the All-Star break as well, posting a 2-0 record in two such spots since the midseason hiatus. They are in that spot once again Tuesday as they posted a 6-0 victory over the Arizona Coyotes Monday night, thanks in large part to a Patric Hornqvist hattrick and Marc-Andre Fleury shutout.

Similar to Ovechkin, Crosby put together an excellent month in February, notching eight goals and 10 assists in 13 games. The Pens’ captain now sits ninth in the league in scoring with 59 points.

With Fleury getting the start Monday, it could very well be a start for backup netminder Jeff Zatkoff Tuesday night. Zatkoff allowed four goals on 16 shots in a 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in his last start back on February 20.

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