NBA Preview: Boston is in a must-win game Friday night as the Bulls have dominated the boards and the Celtics in this series.
Boston Celtics (53-41) at Chicago Bulls (43-41), Friday, 7 p.m. EST
Line: Bulls -1.5. Total 207.5.
Series: Bulls lead 2-0.
When I previewed Game 1, which was a mini-preview for this series, I said, “This is not your typical #1 vs #8 playoff series”. Link here: Chicago vs Boston.
The Bulls three marquee players are taking it to the Celtics.
Jimmy Butler is averaging 26 points per game (PPG), 5.5 assists per game and 8.5 rebounds per game (RPG) in the series. Dwayne Wade is averaging 16.5 PPG, 4 APG and 4.5 RPG, while Rajon Rondo is almost averaging a triple-double with 11.5 PPG, 10 APG and 8.5 RPG. Robin Lopez has chipped in with 16 PPG and 9 RPG.
Isaiah Thomas is averaging 26.5 PPG, 4 APG and 5 RPG for Boston. The Celtics have been unable to control Chicago. The Bulls have 22 more rebounds than Boston in this series. Nikola Mirotic, Bobby Portis and Paul Zipser have chipped in with nice games in this series for Chicago.
The talking heads on television are all talking about a Chicago sweep in this series due to the manner in which the Bulls have outplayed Boston in the first two games. Therefore, it is time to take a glance at the history of some of the past #1 vs #8 series. These are the five #8 seeds to upset the #1 seed:
1994 — #8 Denver defeats #1 Seattle 3-2.
1999 – #8 New York defeats #1 Miami 3-2.
2007 — #8 Golden State defeats #1 Dallas 4-2.
2011 — #8 Memphis defeats #1 San Antonio 4-2.
2012 — #8 Philadelphia defeats #1 Chicago 4-2.
This Lakers versus Suns series in 1993 is the only other #1 vs #8 series where the #8 seed won the first two games on the road:
1993 — #8 Los Angeles Lakers led the #1 Phoenix Suns 2-0.
The Suns rallied to win the next three games to win the series 3-2. Charles Barkley led the comeback with 28.7 PPG and 12 RPG over the final three games of that series.
No #8 seed has never swept a #1 seed. Consequently, the Celtics still have a shot to win this series. The home team won all four games during the regular season. The away team has obviously won both postseason games.
The reversal of fortune from regular season to playoffs has struck the totals, too. All four regular season totals went under, while both playoff games have gone over the Vegas total. Barely. Game 1 went over the total by a single points and Game 2 went over the total by 1.5 points. The pace for both playoff games was under 95, which is below both teams’ regular season averages for the season.
So my focus is on the total. Boston is 22-18-1 to the under on the road, while the Bulls are 25-16 to the under at home this season.
I think the Celtics can win this game, but they are so out of sync and Chicago is playing with such determination and confidence.
Boston / Chicago under 207.5, laying $110 to win $100 (1 unit, normal play).
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