The Bulls know that they have a score to settle here with the Magic, knowing that they were beaten at the United Center by the boys from the Sunshine State just a week and a half ago. The big question is going to be when Derrick Rose is going to get back in the fold. He has been bothered by injuries all season long, and it is clear that the team hasn’t really needed him to make it to the best record in the Eastern Conference, but it is definitely still a concern since the playoffs are just a month and change away. Rose’s groin injury is probably going to keep him out of the fold on Monday, and Richard Hamilton is going to be out with a shoulder injury as well. The big boys in the lineup have had a tough time going against all of the Magic big men in this series this year, and Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, and Luol Deng all have plenty to prove as well.
It’s amazing what happens when you have a team that stays cohesive. That’s what the Magic are finding out right now, and they are playing their best basketball of the season now that they have kept Dwight Howard and the rest of their team intact and the rumors of Howard leaving at the trade deadline are gone. Sure, the team was trashed by the Miami Heat on the road on Sunday, but there is definitely no concern about that as long as the team is continuing to play loose. There have been some big, big wins of late, and it is clear that D-12 is the man that has been at the center of all of it. Howard has averaged 21.1 points and 14.9 boards per game this year, and he is coming off of yet another double-double against the Heat on Saturday. Howard had 29 points and 18 boards against the Bulls in the last go around, and he is going to be under a lot of pressure to get the job done again versus some of the best rebounders that the league has to offer.
The Final Word: The road team has won four in a row in this series, and we think that that is going to come to a close in this one. Orlando is playing the better ball of the two teams, and the oddsmakers probably aren’t going to give the Magic the respect that they deserve in this one. The Bulls are great, even without Rose, and they have covered seven out of nine on the road, but they won’t do it in this one in the Sunshine State in the national spotlight.
Chicago Bulls @ Orlando Magic Free Pick: Orlando Magic
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.