With less than 25 games remaining in the NBA season, the Chicago Bulls, who sit second place in the Eastern Conference, welcome the Los Angeles Clippers to United Center for a tough match up against a Western power (1pm EST, Sunday March 1).
The United Center, home to the Chicago Bulls, was first opened in 1994 as the home to both the Bulls and their NHL counterpart, the Chicago Blackhawks. It is the largest sports arena in the country and has seen three NBA championships and two Stanley Cups.
Both the Blackhawks and Bulls have experienced an immense level of success at United Center but they aren’t the only ones. In fact, second only to the hometown Bulls, no other team has seen as much success in the last 10 years at United Center, than the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Clippers, who have been the better of the two teams in that 10 year span, have won eight of their last nine games at United Center. This is a better winning percentage than all teams, even the Bulls, and is the most wins by any visitor except Orlando (10).
Because of that staggering record, playing in Chicago really has no hometown advantage for the Bulls, who have been a better team this year on the road than at home anyway. The Clippers will have the edge going into this one, even if they will be without one of their best weapons.
Surviving without Derrick Rose
When a star goes down as Derrick Rose has for the Bulls, it is up to the supporting cast to step up. For the Bulls, this is unfortunately nothing new.
In 2008, Rose was drafted first overall in the NBA Draft, making him the first true guard to have done so since Allen Iverson in 1996. While Rose did not win the Rookie of the Year award like Iverson, he did win an even greater title, being named the league MVP in 2011. He was the youngest player ever to win that award.
The Bulls earned the #1 seed in the 2011-12 playoffs but that was the beginning of the end for Rose. In the first game of the first round against the Philadelphia 76ers, Rose injured his left knee. It was revealed as an ACL tear which forced him to miss the rest of the postseason and the entire 2012-13 season as well.
It was during this season that the Bulls were forced to survive and even thrive without Rose. Leading the way was a strong starting five of Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler (pictured) and Nate Robinson. The team managed to reach the semifinals of the Eastern Conference playoffs, losing to the eventual champion Miami Heat.
Without Rose, Butler, the 2011 first round draft choice, emerged as a star on the team. With the absence of Boozer as well, who had left the team prior to the 2013-14 season, Butler led the Bulls offensively. He started a career best 67 games that season and averaged 38 minutes. He also had a career high in rebounds, assists, steals and points per game.
Despite Rose’s return for the 2014-15 season, Butler’s role was not minimized. In fact, he has so far put up the best stats of his career. Now without their star once again due to a torn meniscus, the Bulls will turn to Butler, who has excelled in the last two games without Rose. He is most recently coming off of a 28 point, 12 rebound game with only one committed turnover.
Fortunately, Butler is not alone. The Bulls acquisition of former LA Lakers’ great Pau Gasol, who is averaging over 12 rebounds to lead the team this year, couldn’t have come at a better time. Together, Gasol, Taj Gibson, Butler and Noah, have been a pretty formidable group. Even without Rose, there is no reason to expect this team won’t continue to challenge for a top seed in the Eastern Conference.
Winning without Blake Griffin
Another reason why the absence of Rose won’t hurt the Bulls so much, especially in Sunday’s game, is because the Clippers are without a star too and one who just happens to have averaged over 25 points in his last three games at United Center.
The Clippers are 3-5 in their last eight without Griffin in what has been a pretty tough schedule as of late. Leading the way as always is Chris Paul, who has had to up his own scoring output as well as that of his teammates. One of these teammates is Deandre Jordan, who like Butler for the Bulls, has taken advantage of the role thrust upon him.
Jordan has filled in for Griffin most noticeably when it comes to the glass. He now has seven straight games with at least 15 rebounds and is averaging 19 boards and 18 points in that span, both well above his season’s average.
Los Angeles Clippers at Chicago Bulls Preview Betting Picks
Honestly, what it comes down to for both teams is winning with who they have on the court. So far, both have done so and have managed to stay competitive in their conferences. For the Clippers, it has been a little tougher. Not only is losing Griffin a huge blow but being in the Western Conference makes it even worse. And like I mentioned, it’s not as if the Bulls hadn’t learned to live without Rose.
- That said, it is really hard to ignore the unprecedented level of success had by the Clippers at United Center. It is as if they have home field advantage in this one and it is never a good idea to underestimate the impact that can have. So bet on the Clippers +1pt on the spread @ -110 betting odds with BetOnline Sportsbook. They can continue their Chicago dominance and get another win against the Bulls.