Clippers @ Bulls: Injuries mean LA will win at United Center

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While Chicago (21-20) remain 66/1 outsiders to land the NBA championships and unfancied at 33/1 to secure the Eastern Conference title Tom Thibodeau’s men have emerged as genuine playoff contenders in recent weeks.

The Bulls are on a three-game win streak, despite suffering a number of changes to their starting line-up of late.

Firstly Luol Deng was transferred to Cleveland after balking at a new $30m three-year deal, then Carlos Boozer was ruled out and now Kirk Hinrich has joined long-term absentee Derrick Rose in the treatment room.

However the Bulls showed a strength in depth that not many believed possible in picking up straight victories over the 76ers, Lakers and Deng’s Cavaliers.

One of the key reasons for this run has been the form of DJ Augustin, who has averaged 21.6 over his last five games to boost the Bulls to .500 for the first time in two months.

And with Boozer set to return against the Clippers the 13/10 on a home win will prove tempting, especially with the Bulls going 6-1 from their last seven at the United Center.

Joakim Noah has also been instrumental in Chicago’s resurgence and his determination is evidenced by his rebound stats alone.

Noah has achieved 10 or more boards in 14 straight games, the first time anyone has done that in a Bulls Jersey since Dennis Rodman in 1997.

However, while Bulls fans have had more reasons for optimism of late, the hosts look set to see their current run snapped by the in-form Clippers (29-15).

Doc Rivers’ men suffered a shock defeat at the hands of the Bobcats last time out but are 6-2 from their last eight and always confident when facing the Bulls especially at the United Center.

The Californians have won six of their last eight meetings with Thibodeau’s men and are 7-1 in eight trips to the Windy City.

The most recent of those wins – a 121-82 victory in November last year – represented a franchise high winning margin for the Clippers and shows why the visitors should be backed at 20/31 to win again here.

However, while another LA win appears to be on the cards, Chicago’s ranking as the second best defence in the NBA (shipping just 92.5ppg), suggests it could pay to back the hosts at +3.5 at odds of 10/11.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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James Curtis

After studying for a degree in journalism and gaining his NCTJ, James contributed to a wide range of papers, online publications and broadcasters including the South London Press, Press Association and Sky Sports News before joining the Ladbrokes News team.