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  • Writer's picture@WizeOwlSports

Jan 3 NBA Betting: Boston Celtics a Play @ Chicago Bulls

Boston Celtics +10.5 @ Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Bulls starting Shooting Guard, Jimmy Butler, will miss the game at the United Center today versus the Boston Celtics. The up-and-coming star is said to be away from the team on bereavement leave. This season Butler is averaging about 22 points per game, with 3 assists and 6 boards, up significantly from last season's 13 PPG, 3 APG, 5 RPG.

Prior to this news, we had a slight bias toward Boston to get the cover, as computer simulations forecast a Bulls victory by a 6.5-7.5 point margin (the betting spread opened at 11). Since the machines' predictions did not offer the five point cushion against the spread that we generally require to justify a play, we were content to sit on the fence though.

However, when we recalibrate our prediction to account for Butler being out, Boston appears a solid play. To wit, Jimmy Butler owns the 17th highest Real Plus Minus (RPM) in the league, which makes him one of the most singuarly valuable players in the game today. By our math, Butler's 4.18 RPM translates to an estimated average decrease in scoring of 8.4 points per game for Chicago.

The Tribune article referenced earlier suggests Kirk Hinrich could start in place of the third year rising star out of Marquette. Hinrich's RPM of -1.2 implies an average decline in scoring of another 2.1 points per game for Chicago. Factoring in this 10+ point swing against the betting line suggests that a straight up win is not out of the question for the the Celtics in this spot.

The Celtics did just lose to the Mavericks in overtime last night, but Boston is the seventh youngest team in the Association, so second games of back-to-backs should not be much more menacing thanany other games. To this point, Boston has abetter reocrd in game 2's of back-to-backs they have in aggregate this season: the Celts are 2-2 in games where they played one night earlier, but are 11-19 overall.

Bottom line: while we are not willing to go out a limb and take the Celts to win, we are happy to receive double-digit points backing Boston against a Bulls team absent their leading scorer.

Happy betting!!

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