One team was successful in their bid to close out their series last night, as Memphis edged Portland by six (a push if you had the game at -6) even without Mike Conley. The win was HUGE for Memphis who now avoids a dangerous road game at Portland and a potential Game Seven, and also gives Mike Conley some time to rest and recover before they begin their series with the top team in the NBA, Golden State. This has the potential to be an awesome series – remember just three or four weeks ago a LOT of people were picking Memphis to advance as the #2 seed over the Warriors in the Playoffs – this was before the Spurs awoke from their slumber and the Grizz went through their rash of injuries. If, and again, IF, Conley can return to form and be ready for Game One, we could be in for a real thriller.
Meanwhile, another team will have a chance to close out their series tonight as the Bulls take aim on sending the young Bucks fishing for the third time. Can they finally close out this series? Let’s dive into tonight’s free pick. And no, I didn’t forget that the best first round series in a while is on tonight as well, I’m just not touching the Clippers vs. Spurs from a wagering perspective. If you think you know what is going to happen tonight, go for it…
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Today’s Free Pick:
Chicago Bulls -3.5 at Milwaukee Bucks (Total: 187)
There is a strong sentiment to say, ok, enough is enough already, and just assume the Bulls will close out the Bucks on the road. After all, many people have been saying that when healthy, the Bulls are the best team in the East. Well, they are healthy now. And they haven’t even looked like the best team in the series against a team that was barely .500 and had the worst record in the entire NBA last year.
So surely they close out the series tonight, right?
If they are, they are going to have to start valuing the basketball. They have a staggering 41 turnovers in their last two games and have shot 40.5% from the floor. Some of that is Milwaukee’s doing – they are one of the better defensive teams in the NBA, but some of it is also Chicago’s sloppiness. Derrick Rose is struggling as well, turning the ball over nearly twice as often as he notches an assist (14 to 8).
There’s a lot of reasons to like Milwaukee and their momentum. But keep in mind only three teams in NBA history have forced a Game Seven after trailing 3-0 in a series. It’s hard to think Chicago, now healthy, can continue to play as poorly as they did in the last two games. They shot well below average, they turned it over FAR above average and they were beaten to loose balls all over the place; not the norm for a Coach Thibs team.
I’m not wild about Chicago right now, but I’ll bet on the regression to the mean tonight and a Bulls road win. Milwaukee was only 23-19 at home this season and is 2-2 in their last four home games against the Bulls, so there really wouldn’t be anything shocking about a Bulls win tonight. Leave emotion and sentiment at the door, and the Bulls are the better play.