Bulls Heat Spread Pick and Betting Odds

The Conference Finals continued on their exciting and difficult to predict to pathlast night, as the Mavericks raced out to a huge lead in Oklahoma City and managed to hold on for the Game Three road win. The series now tilts 2-1 in Dallas’s favor, but promises to be a thrilling series to the finish.

Tonight’s Game Three has a slightly different feel, as the team heading home, despite the lower seed, is largely viewed as the favorite. Where the Thunder were trying to “hold on” to the home court advantage they “stole” in Game Two, the Heat are more looking to assert their will and assume control of the series by earning two wins at home.

Will they be able to do it? Let’s move on to tonight’s free pick.

Today’s Free NBA Picks:

Chicago Bulls @ Miami Heat -4.5 (Total: 179)

Many an analyst has remarked that a series doesn’t begin until the home team loses. If that is the case, than this series is certainly off and running. The Bulls will e attempting to steal back the home court edge they lost in Game Two, while the Heat will be looking to sweep a pair in South Beach and grab a commanding 3-1 series lead.

I know I raised a few eyebrows with my pre-Game Two proclamation that the two benches were about even. Yes, the Chicago Bulls had a ton more production from their bench in Game One and even over the course of the season – but thanks to the heroic return of Udonis Haslem, the statement proved accurate. Now the question remains, can Haslem muster up the same effort again tonight?

The odds of Haslem being able to play at 100% is aided by the Q-Rating of LeBron James, and the NBA’s decision to slot a third day of rest in between Games Two and Three in order to get the Heat into a more desirable TV rotation. The extra rest suits the Heat just fine, who will be counting on the energetic power forward to help stifle the relentless offensive rebounding attack of the Bulls. If he is able to do, look for the Heat to have great success tonight in Game 3.

I think the Heat discovered some real matchup advantages they can exploit late in Game Two. They also discovered that if they share the ball a bit more, they can create more opportunities for favorable matchups and better looks at the basket. In Game One, the all froze every possession, as they held it, let the defense get comfortable and forced one-on-one opportunities. In Game Two, the ball movement was a little more fluid and the results showed in nine more assists.

Look for the Heat to feed off their home crowd today, which, in true-Miami style, should be in full throat now that the stakes are sufficiently high, and really ramp up the defensive pressure. I see Wade and James pitching in defending Derrick Rose and a 7 for 24, 11 for 32 –type shooting performance forthcoming. Rose will get his points, but he is going to really have to struggle for them. The Heat, more importantly, will get the win in the pivotal Game Three.

PICK: Miami Heat -4.5

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Chris Scheeren / Author