NBA Betting Preview - Philadelphia 76ers at Chicago Bulls (Thursday 8:00 ET)
The Philadelphia 76ers are trying to slip ahead of the Miami Heat for the fifth slot in the Eastern Conference, as the regular season winds down.
Though neither team will have home court edge in the first round of the playoffs, the payoff for finishing in the five-hole is avoiding either Orlando or Boston, one of whom who will finish third in the East.
The Sixers (40-37, 36-38-3 ATS) with a win over Chicago Thursday night would move into tie with Miami with four games to play. The Bulls have been playing well though and are listed as a 6-1/2 point favorite because of it.
Philly has not been inspiring on the road, with a 16-22 (18-20 ATS) record and has lost three in a row.
In their last two losses, Philadelphia lost to New Jersey by 29 points and trailed Charlotte by 20 points, before losing 101-98 as 4.5-point underdogs.
"We just want to go into the playoffs playing our best basketball," said forward Andre Iguodala. "I think we played great in the second half.
We just need to carry that good play into the playoffs. "These next few regular season games will be very important."
Iguodala couldn't be more right about that, which places a premium on this contest. In there remaining games, the Sixers have home and home with Cleveland and host Boston.
Off the loss to Charlotte, Philadelphia is 4-9 ATS after surrendering 100 or more points.
Chicago (38-40, 39-37-2 ATS) is in a very different situation. The Bulls missed the playoffs all together a season ago and lucked into having the number one draft choice which ended up being Derrick Rose.
Chicago has been meaningfully improved and sensed they had a shot at the playoffs this season and traded for forward John Salmons and center Brad Miller.
The Bulls have charged into the postseason picture, largely due to reestablishing home court advantage at the United Center. Chicago has won 12 of 13 (10-3 ATS) at home and five in a row.
Rose and the younger players are learning about what it takes to make the playoffs and what this type of basketball is like.
"They (the team's veterans) are yelling a little bit more," Rose said. "Brad (Miller), he yells a lot. In the Indiana game (last week), I think I let T.J. (Ford) get a layup and they were telling me to foul him like it was in the playoffs.
But this is the first time I'm in that situation. Playoffs, I guess, are totally different." Chicago will come into this contest 11-3-1 ATS versus teams with winning records.
Sportsbook.com opened the Bulls as 6.5-point favorites with a total of 202 and they are 6-1 against the spread if opponent has losing road record.
The Bulls offense has primarily keyed the winning edge; scoring 100 or more points in 10 of last 11 (only game they missed totaled 99) and they are 5-1-1 OVER facing a team with winning record.
Because of the future slate, this is essentially a must win for Philadelphia who is 7-1 ATS as an underdog of 4.5-10.5 points and is 7-3 OVER in last 10 road tilts.
This will be opener on the last regular season contest on Thursday TNT starting at 8 Eastern, with the underdog having covered seven of eight.
Pick: Philadelphia 76ers +6 (-110)
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