Cavaliers, Bulls to stay ‘under’ in Game 1 is the NBA Pick

LT Profits Sports Group

Monday, May 4, 2015 2:20 PM UTC

Monday, May. 4, 2015 2:20 PM UTC

Each day the LT Profits Sports Group seeks out a total that simply does not add up and therefore offers the most value that day. Here is their Total Value Play of the Day for Monday.


The pre-playoff favorites to win the NBA Championship will be short-handed to start the Eastern Conference semifinals Monday night when the third seeded Chicago Bulls (54-34, 25-19 away) visit those second seeded Cleveland Cavaliers (57-29, 33-10 home) for Game 1 from Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH at 7:05 ET in a game televised nationally on TNT.

The posted total at Bet365 is 194 for this contest with the current odds on the ‘under’ set at -110.

Two Best Teams in East?
Once the seedings were determined before the playoffs, this second round series was probably the most highly anticipated series in the Eastern Conference with more than a few experts considering these clubs to be the two best teams in the East. And the teams made sure that this matchup took place by taking care of business in the first round, setting up this de facto Eastern Conference Final if you will, with no disrespect intended toward the top seeded Hawks.

The Cavaliers made quick work of the outclassed Boston Celtics in a four-game sweep, although Game 4 of that series could ultimately prove costly as we will get to in a bit. The Bulls meanwhile nearly had a sweep of their own after being the winning NBA picks in the first three games vs. Milwaukee, but the Bucks showed some heart by avoiding the sweep and then winning Game 5 in Chicago before the Bulls ended things with a 120-66 annihilation in Game 6.

No Love, No Smith
But getting back to the Cavaliers Game 4 victory vs. the Celtics, Cleveland may have completed the sweep on the court but they lost the third member of their Big Three Kevin Love and his 16.4 points and 9.7 rebounds per game for the season to a separated shoulder and also another scorer in J.R. Smith for the first two games of this series as he was suspended for throwing an elbow to the head of Boston’s Jae Crowder during the third quarter of that contest.

Now, both of those players are defensive liabilities, especially Love, and the Cavaliers may actually be a better defensive team without them. And Love’s rebounding could be replaced by Tristan Thompson getting some extended minutes, as he averaged 8.0 rebounds while playing only 26 minutes per game this season. However, Cleveland does not have much scoring on the bench, and that is the biggest concern here.

Yes, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving can raise their scoring to unworldly levels, and that in itself could be enough for the Cavaliers to win this game with the expected improved defense, but the overall scoring output probably will not approach the 103.2 points per game the Cavs averaged this season with just two players, no matter their greatness, now carrying the scoring load, at least until Smith gets back for Game 3.

Rose Needs to Bloom
And the Chicago defense more closely resembled the great defenses of the past few years under Coach Tom Thibodeau during the second half of the season after uncharacteristically struggling during the first half, and that defense held the Bucks to 88.5 points per game in the first round, an average that drops to 86.7 points during regulation time as the Bucks needed overtime to get to 106 points in Game 3 after sitting at 95 after regulation.

And the job of that very good defense is obviously made easier by only needing to closely defend two players these first two games. Still, the Bulls will need to score points to take full advantage of the missing Cavaliers’ players and frankly the Chicago offense was spotty during the Milwaukee series, due on large part to Derricks Rose scoring 15 points or less in four of the six games. As a result the Bulls reached 100 points just once before the Game 6 explosion.

And Rose even scored just 15 games in that contest, but the Bulls received double-digit scoring from all five starters in that nearly perfect performance, which has been far from a nightly performance this year.

Trending ‘under’ in Cleveland
Finally these teams have tended to stay ‘under’ in their head-to-head meetings in Cleveland. Yes the totals split 2-2 in the four regular season meetings overall this year, but the two ‘unders’ came in the two games here at Quicken Loans Arena, bringing the ‘under’ to 4-1 in the last five meetings here, and even one of the ‘overs’ in Chicago this season required overtime.

Given the Cavaliers being down two scorers for the beginning portion of this series, look for the ‘under’ trend in Cleveland to continue when Chicago comes to visit for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Monday.

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NBA Pick: Cavaliers, Bulls ‘under’ 194 (-110)

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