Chicago Bulls at Philadelphia 76’ers -1.5 (Total: 179)
A funny thing happens during the NBA Playoffs. The game that was most recently played remains fresh in our minds and tends to alter the way we as the public wager and hence effect the way Vegas and the offshore books set their lines. It’s exactly what happened with the slim line for the Grizzlies over the Clippers two nights ago; “oh how will they ever recover from the emotional letdown of their collapse?!?” By being professional athletes. We, the fans and public, take these things a lot harder than the players. They get back on the court and do what they always do; play.
Like last night. The Mavericks were actually considerable favorites over the Thunder last night at home, based on the strength of a few close games in Game One and Two. The 3.5 point line means that Vegas saw it as an even matchup on a neutral floor. Far from it! The Mavs looked old. The Thunder looked young, talented, explosive and absolutely undaunted by the supposed “hostile road crowd.” Suffice it to say, we will be crowning a new NBA champion this June. The Champs are done.
Which begs the question; are the Bulls in that mix?? Can #1 overall seed Chicago rebound from the loss of their MVP and still make a run at the Eastern Conference title and NBA Finals? Game two was certainly not a positive indicator, as the Sixers absolutely blitzed the Bulls in the second half, treating the United Center like their own personal practice facility, dominating the Bulls 62-37 and looking more like the aggressor; the defensive juggernaut that the Bulls were supposed to be. So can they get their swagger back tonight in Philly??
I’m banking that they can. Keep in mind that this Bulls team has played without Rose before; 25 times this season to be exact. They played more games missing one of their three best players than they did having all three on the court. The one constant has been their pressure-style defense and terrific rebounding. As good as Derrick Rose is, he doesn’t make a tremendous impact on that side of the floor. There is no reason they can’t put the clamps down tonight and hold the Sixers in that 76-82 point range. Assuming they can do that, all will be well in the Windy City.
I look for CJ Watson to do what he does so well; hit big shots and continue to be the most valuable and unheralded reserve in the NBA. Look for the Bulls to exploit a huge rebounding advantage with Boozer, Taj Gibson and Luol Deng all more athletic and longer than their respective matchups. I expect the Bulls to regain control of the series and to make Game Two appropriately look more like what it was; a one-game aberration. In the meantime, we get to benefit from the over-shrunken line.
Free Pick: Chicago Bulls +1.5 <– Click for $100 Free Bet