Growing up before our eyes
It’s pretty remarkable that the Wizards have been able to turn it on like this in the playoffs, but what’s even more impressive is how they have dissected the Bulls’ defense in this series. The NBA odds are reflecting that on Friday night, as the Wizards come in as -2 ½ favorites, with a total of 181 ½. Even though the spread looks good, because of all of the scoring from Washington, I don’t expect it to disappear now that they are back at home.
Washington has now put at least 100 points on the Bulls in two games in a row, and you can tell that Chicago’s defense is tired and not the same. In fact, dating back to the regular season, the Bulls’ defense hasn’t been that good over the last few weeks. In their last six games, including the two playoff ones, the Bulls have now given up an average of 98 points per game. That is a far cry from their 91-oppg average from the regular season, and going on the road is not going to help anything on Friday night.
The young guard combo of Bradley Beal and John Wall are quickly coming into their own, and what was once just sought after potential has become a reality in Washington. Along with their frontcourt, which matches up well against the Bulls, the Wizards may have one of the more balanced teams in the East playoffs this season. While it remains to be seen if they can win another series, they seem to be well on their way to a win in this one.
The Sharp Pick
The total is really undervalued in this game, and after the first two games went over, the total has not changed much from Games 1 and 2. At 181 ½, the Wizards and Bulls would only need to both breach 90 points, and while their defense has been very good, I don’t think the Wizards can hold Chicago under 90 points, and this could be the edge we are looking for with our NBA picks. Even though this game is in DC, the Bulls will be coming out desperate to get a win in order to get back in this series.
However, as I mentioned above, I don’t think the Bulls’ defense is going to magically show up. They look completely spent, and the trends show it. The 'over' has cashed in five of Chicago’s last six games, and seven of their last ten, as well, dating back to the regular season. A total of 181 ½ is simply too low, and the sportsbooks are still making us believe the Bulls are an elite defensive team. They are not. This younger, faster and more athletic Wizards team has exposed them.
The 'over' has now also cashed in the last four games overall for the Wizards, and I see it happening again tonight. Now that they are at home, the Wizards will want to push the pace on the tired Bulls, and make sure they play their style of offense. The Bulls will want to desperately slow the pace of the game down, but they failed twice at that when playing at home, so there is nothing that makes me think they will be able to do it on the road. This series could be a sweep, but the safer play in Game 3 is the 'over'. After a win this season, the Wizards are now 26-19 cashing the 'over'.
My Free NBA Pick: ‘Over’ 181 ½