Philadelphia 76’ers at Chicago Bulls -5 (Total: 171.5)
How awesome was Chris Paul last night in overtime?? In a pivotal Game Four, the best point guard in the world controlled the ballgame and orchestrated a dynamic extra frame and willed the Clippers to the huge win and the 3-1 series lead. I think they will have trouble closing it out in Game Five in Memphis, but historically, NBA teams are 94% series winners once staked a 3-1 lead. The importance of that clutch Game Four win can’t be overstated.
All four of our matchups tonight feature the long odds that a 3-1 defecit brings. So do any have the chops to battle out of the hole and come back and join the lonely 6% of series victors? Do any have the fortitude to even extend the series tonight and force a Game Six? Let’s breakdown some numbers and take a look at tonight’s free pick.
So far for the NBA Playoffs, we are a sparkling 60% ATS, however two of my losses have come backing the Bulls. The fact that I am going to the well that burned me twice is less reason for alarm, and more reason for some deeper analysis.
To say the Bulls looked shell-shocked to be without Derrick Rose in Game Two is an understatement. It is normal the offense suffers slightly, but there was no other rationale for the defensive lapses. Games Three and Four were good ballgames between what has become two pretty evenly matched teams, with the home team (Philly) sneaking out wins in each. Tonight the tables turn and the Bulls look to stave off elimination in the United Center.
CJ Watson struggled mightily over the weekend, but the bulk of the season he has been a phenomenal stand-in for D-Rose. I expect him to get over his shooting slump tonight at home and once again be the sparkplug the Bulls so dearly missed. Joakim Noah will also likely miss his second game with a sprained knee, leaving the Bulls down two of their best players and leaders.
But I STILL like them to “man up” tonight and get the job done. This is still an excellent defensive team and their opponent is a very young team trying to close out a playoff series on the road for their first postseason series win in nine years. That’s a tall order to ask. The series reminds me of 2003 when the Magic stormed to a 3-1 lead of the battered, veteran Pistons and poor Tracy McGrady made the unfortunate interview slip of speaking as if they had already advanced to the second round. Three games later, the Pistons completed the comeback and T-Mac has been looking for a few playoff wins ever since…
You know who else remembers that series?? Rip Hamilton. Who will be starting at two-guard tonight for the desperate Bulls.
I like a desperate, clawing defensive effort from Chicago and a few of those shots that were rattling out on the road to fall tonight at home. Gimme the Bulls laying the five.
Free Pick: Chicago Bulls -5 <– Click for $100 FREE Bet