The Chicago Bulls are one victory away from becoming the first team to reach the second of the playoffs and they can accomplish that feat with a victory tonight over the Pacers in Game 4 of their opening round playoff series.
Chicago opened as –a 5 point favorite on the NBA odds boards with the
total at 188. Game time is set for 2:30 PM ET from the Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis
and will be televised nationally on TNT.
The Bulls haven't won a game by more than six
points in this series, but Chicago has
found ways to close out Indiana in the waning moments. The key for the Bulls
now is to get this series out of the way as soon as possible while watching
Atlanta and Orlando beat each other up in the 4/5 series which the Hawks lead 2
games to 1.
Expectations are sky high in Chicago where
the Bulls won a league-high 62 games to secure homecourt advantage throughout
the playoffs. Their first round in the NBA Playoffs was supposed to be little more than a ‘tune up’
on the way to the NBA title but it’s proved to be tougher than expected.
The Chicago Bulls finally managed a cover in Game 3,
that is if you got them at -3 ½. If you waited too long to throw your money
down you may have gotten them at 4 or 4 ½ in which case a push was your best
case scenario. The Pacers have held their own by leading in the fourth quarter
in all three games, but they’re facing a nearly impossible hole from which to
climb out of and moral victories don’t help when you’re in this spot.
Since 2004, 23 teams have been stuck in a 3-0
deficit with those teams going 6-17 SU and 5-16-2 ATS in Game 4's. The Celtics
lost a pair of Game 4’s last season to Miami and Orlando but things turned out
okay for them as they advanced to the NBA finals.
Following a high-scoring Game 1 (104-99), the
'under' has cashed in the last two games. The Game 2 total was raised to 193
after a 188 total in the series opener, but the defense stepped up with a 96-90
Bulls' win in the second game. The total dropped 4 ½ points from Game 2 to Game
3 and Saturday's number is hovering around 188.
Derrick Rose averaged 37.5
points in the first two games of the series, but he was held to 23 points on
4-for-18 shooting in Game 3. However he still was clutch down the stretch
closing out the Pacers, this time with a layup that gave the Bulls the lead for
Kyle Korver who assisted on the Rose layup has come up clutch in the
series making seven of eight 3-pointers in the series and scoring 10 points in
the final 12 minutes of Game 3.
Once again the Indiana Pacers had its chances. The
Pacers led by five points with 9:30 left, but a 10-0 run by the Bulls turned
the game around. While Chicago has been strong in the fourth quarter throughout
the series, the Pacers have fallen apart at winning time making just 8 of 23
shots and shooting 38% in the fourth quarter of Game 3.
Round Betting Trends
If you’ve been
making square plays on the money line during the first round, then go ahead and
pat yourself on the back. The Home teams are 15-7 SU and favorites are 18-4 SU.
Underdogs are 14-8 ATS while the ‘under’ is slightly ahead of the ‘over’ at
The Bulls have won
nine straight but is just 4-5 ATS. Seven of the games have gone ‘under’ the
total, a testament to the ratcheting up of the Chicago defense late in the
season and in the first week of the playoffs.
Harvey’s Take: I
smell a sweep here. Chicago has worn Indiana down and now they’re ready to
deliver the knockout blow. Lay the points as Chicago moves into the Eastern