The Chicago Bulls are an NBA-best 23-7 despite playing 20 of their first 30 games away from the familiar surroundings of the United Center where last season they were an impressive 36-5.

Derrick Rose on Sunday missed his second straight game with back spasms as Chicago saw its five-game winning streak snapped in a 95-91 loss to the Boston Celtics.

In Rose’s absence, Boston point guard Rajon Rondo ran wild with a triple-double of 32 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds.

On the surface, Chicago’s early-season success has been noteworthy.

However, a quick look inside the numbers and a closer look at Chicago’s recently-completed nine-game road trip tells a different story.

Chicago is coming dangerously close to earning the label of “cripple shooter.”

The Bulls were 6-3 on their longest road trip of the season — a nine-game odyssey covering 15 days — winning all six games against teams with losing records while losing the three contests against winning teams.

Chicago this season is only 6-6 versus teams at .500 or better and a near-invincible 17-1 against the losers of the league with the only setback coming to the 9-14 Golden State Warriors on the second day of the season.

Contrast Chicago’s 6-6 record with Miami’s mark of 10-4 or Oklahoma City’s 12-4 or San Antonio’s record of 14-5 against teams at .500 or better, thus raising doubts about Chicago’s championship chances.

Two key questions for the Bulls moving forward:

1) Are they the type of team that plays hard every night in the regular season, but fails to raise their level of play to the championship caliber necessary to win an NBA title?

To illustrate, Chicago won all three regular-season meetings last season against Miami but then lost four of five games to the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.

2) Is it possible for Derrick Rose to win an NBA title on a roster filled with quality role players or should the Bulls consider acquiring a Scottie Pippen-type capable of complementing Rose’s immense talent?

It seems Carlos Boozer is a cut below the league’s elite, Luol Deng can be trusted defensively but not offensively, and Richard Hamilton’s best days are behind him.

OLE MISS, EMPHASIS ON MISS……Andy Kennedy’s team is the only Division I squad in the country shooting less than 60% from the free-throw line and below 30% from beyond the arc.

So how are the Rebels 15-9 on the season and 5-5 in SEC play?

Kennedy’s programs traditionally feature scrappy, athletic teams known for their hustle and determination, especially on the defensive end. A weak conference schedule also helped the Rebels’ cause. Ole Miss has played the softest schedule of the 12 SEC teams through the first ten games of the conference slate. Over the next three weeks, Ole Miss will face a brutal schedule featuring six teams with winning records and a combined won-loss mark of 102-47.

Now would be a good time for Ole Miss to convert from the charity stripe and hit an occasional 3-ball.

SPRING AND SUMMER PLANS…..Eye On Gaming is positioning itself to become one of the leading sports betting websites on the Internet. We have big goals on short deadlines. Led by our executive coordinator EOGMike, I expect our operation to undergo several positive changes over the next three or four months. Our plan is to explode on the scene in late July or early August with some new offerings and exciting projects, just in time for the start of the 2012 pro and college football seasons. We have several strengths to build on (head moderator KingRevolver’s creativity, an aggressive promotional schedule managed by Jack Stewart and a vibrant community of smart, sophisticated sports gamblers) and a few weaknesses to address (a cleaner look to our website, an increase in sponsorship dollars to drive our enterprise and the use of cost-efficient advertising vehicles to spread our message).

MONDAY’S BEST BET……Play 501-502 Philadelphia 76ers-Charlotte Bobcats “OVER” 176.5. The Bobcats are in double trouble as they score the fewest points in the league (86.3 ppg) and allow the most (100.9 ppg). They’ve lost 14 straight games, but they’ve been especially miserable over the past two weeks, losing their last six games by nearly 25 points per contest. The sorry Bobcats allowed the Clippers to score 111 points on 52% shooting in a 25-point loss to Los Angeles last Saturday. The Sixers feature a trio of versatile players on the perimeter — Jrue Holiday, Andre Igoudala and Lou Williams — all of whom recorded five assists while combining to score 47 points in Philly’s last outing, a 99-84 victory over Cleveland. Philly center Spencer Hawes is unavailable (Achilles injury) for the Sixers and that’s a good thing because he seems to limit scoring on both ends of the floor.

COMING TUESDAY…..A list of five teams in Division I basketball ranked atop the important statistical category of free-throw differential. These teams have the ability to get to the free-throw line while denying their opponents the same opportunity.

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