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Dec 22 NBA Play: Betting Toronto Raptors @ Chicago Bulls

Toronto Raptors +5 (-117) at Chicago Bulls

One simulation program we use sees this game as a virtual draw -- even with Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson in the lineup for Chicago (both Rose and Gibson are listed as probable, as is Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol, according to CBS Sports). The other computer in our stable sees Toronto winning outright by about 5 points. Thus our simulations uniformly offer the requisite five point cushion between our expectation and the betting line.

The pro-Toronto bias expressed by the machines today should not be surprising considering that, even without standout stretch Guard DeMar DeRozan, at 22-6, Toronto is tied with the Portland Blazers for second-best record in the league honors -- this stretch includes six consecutive wins (and counting) and an 8-3 record away from Air Canada Centre.

Raptors accolades also include the second-most productive offense in the game. Further, allowing about one point less per contest than the league average, the Raptors are no pushovers on defense either.

Betting trends: Toronto is 9-4 ATS in the last 13 meetings with Chicago, and is an utterly dominant 12-2 versus the number when playing in Chicago. The Raptors are also 5-0 in the second game of their last five back-to-backs.

The Bulls, playing without the services of Derrick Rose, got the the early jump on the Grizzlies in Memphis Friday night, and with Jimmy Butler leading the charge, never let up. Chicago beat Memphis 103-97, marking the fifth win of their last six games.

Despite the progress Chicago has demonstrated in recent days though, we are more drawn to Toronto's balanced consistency. The Raptors are an impressive 17-11 against the spread -- good for fourth best in the NBA. They win games with a team approach (excluding DeRozan, four Raptors average double digits, and one player misses that bogey by a mere tenth of a point) and a focus on fundamentals (Toronto commits the second fewest turnovers per game of all NBA teams). As such, we expect Toronto will find a way to get the cover versus a even fully-staffed Chicago Bulls team. If one or more of the Bulls currently listed as probable can not go tonight, our conviction in this play would increase.

Happy betting!!

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