Chicago & Cleveland are jockeying for the 2nd & 3rd NBA playoff seeds in the Eastern Conference. The Cavs are a sizable favorite on the NBA betting lines for this matchup.
The Chicago Bulls Can Win Because…
They are playing the kind of defense that can win games against good teams. It’s true that the Detroit Pistons are not a playoff team, but the Bulls were particularly strong on defense in their Friday victory. They allowed only nine points in the second quarter, playing defense well enough to survive a night in which the Bulls scored only 12 points in the third quarter. Chicago limited Detroit to only 6 of 19 shooting from three-point land, and only 15 free throw attempts throughout the entirety of Friday’s game. One other thing Chicago did really well was bother the Pistons’ halfcourt sets. They pressured ballhandlers and got into passing lanes to the extent that they were able to force 18 Detroit turnovers, eight of them coming from Reggie Jackson, a point guard who – as seen with the Oklahoma City Thunder last season – is very capable of taking over a game against a good defensive team. If the Bulls can continue to be very disruptive on defense, giving LeBron James and Kyrie Irving a lot of different looks, they can put themselves in position to win this game on the road as an underdog in NBA odds.
One other thing to point out about the Bulls is that while Chicago beat Detroit by only six points on Friday, they were roughed up by the Pistons’ big man, Andre Drummond, who grabbed 22 rebounds, seven of them on offense. The Bulls’ defense looks that much better when you realize how many extra possessions Drummond gained for Detroit. Cleveland does not have a rebounder as good as Drummond, so the Bulls can limit the Cavs’ amount of possessions in this game. That will help them a lot.
The Cleveland Cavaliers Can Win Because…
They are facing a Chicago team that still doesn’t have Derrick Rose back. Let’s not try to overthink this game. The Bulls need Rose to be able to go deep into the playoffs. They will need him to beat the Cavaliers in a best-of-seven playoff series. Realistically, with this game being in Cleveland, the Bulls need him to win on the Cavs’ home court, but he’s not going to be in the lineup. Chicago scored just 88 points on Friday against Detroit and only 12 in the third quarter. The Bulls hit just 4 of 17 three-pointers, and only one player attempted at least six shots while hitting at least 50 percent from the field – Pau Gasol, with 11 of 19 shooting. Joakim Noah hit over 50 percent of his shots, but he attempted only five. Taj Gibson was 4 of 13. Jimmy Butler was only 6 of 16. Aaron Brooks was an ugly 2 of 9. This team simply cannot beat Cleveland with a lot of bad shooting performances. At least three of the players who struggled against Detroit have to be a lot better, not just a little better, for the Bulls to even have a chance here.
The simple truth is that without Derrick Rose, the Bulls are bringing a knife to a gunfight. Cleveland has so many more weapons and is playing at home. Take the Cavaliers with your NBA picks.
NBA Pick: Cleveland -8.5 at 5Dimes