Chicago Bulls (41-41 SU, 42-38-2 ATS) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (61-21 SU, 37-43-2 ATS), 3:00 p.m. EST, Saturday, April 17, 2010, Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio. TV: ABC
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Bulls +11/Cavaliers -11
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In order for the Cleveland Cavaliers to keep LeBron
James from exploring free agency and signing with another team this
summer, they may need to win the NBA Championship. LeBron and the Cavs’
quest towards that Championship gets underway Saturday afternoon when they
host Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls
in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
In Game 1 of the 2008 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Rose’s first playoff
game of his career, the Bulls upset the Celtics on the road, 105-103 in
overtime. Rose was the hero with 36 points and 11 assists. Joakim
Noah also had 11 points and 17 rebounds.
The Cavs were eliminated last year in the Eastern Conference Finals, losing in six games to the Orlando Magic. The Magic jumped out to a 3-1 series lead before the Cavs forced a Game 6. But the Magic won 103-90 at home in Game 6 to end the series. It was just a bad matchup for the Cavs, as the Magic had versatile forwards Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu, as well as dominant big man Dwight Howard.
The Bulls were eliminated in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals last season by losing in Game 7 to the Celtics, 109-99. But the Bulls put up quite a fight in what was easily one of the best first round playoff series of all-time. There were a total of seven overtimes in the series.
The Cavs and Bulls met four times during the regular season. In the first meeting, the Bulls won 86-85 in Cleveland on November 5. Then, the Cavs won 101-87 at home on December 4. In the third meeting, the Cavs won 92-85 in Chicago on March 19. And in the final meeting, the Bulls won 109-108 at home on April 8.
Shaquille O’neal hasn’t played for the Cavs since February 25, but he is expected to play in Game 1 of this series. He is averaging 12 points and 6.7 rebounds per game in 53 games this season.
LeBron James, Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison comprise the big trio for the Cavs, with a large emphasis on the first player of that trio. LeBron is averaging 29.7 points, 8.6 assists and 7.3 rebounds per game. He has not played since April 6 because the Cavs wanted to rest him for the playoffs. Williams is averaging 15.8 points, 5.3 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game. Jamison is averaging 18.7 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. The final member of the starting lineup will probably be Delonte West. Off the bench, the Cavs have Anderson Varejao, J.J. Hickson, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Anthony Parker, Daniel Gibson and Jamario Moon.
The Bulls are led by Derrick Rose, who is averaging 20.8 points,
6.0 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game this season. Rose will have the ball
in his hands for most of the game, whether it be scoring, dishing out assists,
or just running the offense. Luol Deng is averaging 17.6 points and
7.3 rebounds per game. Kirk Hinrich is averaging 10.9 points, 4.5 assists
and 3.5 rebounds per game. Joakim Noah is averaging 10.7 points and 11.0
rebounds per game. The final starter is rookie big man Taj Gibson, who is
averaging 9.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Off the bench, the Bulls
have Flip Murray, Brad Miller, Jannero Pargo and Hakim Warrick, but they
really don’t go past Murray and Miller much.
The Bulls don’t have a lot of size down low, with Noah, Gibson and Miller controlling the paint. They will have to stop Shaq, Ilgauskas, Varejao, LeBron and Jamison down low. If two of the Bulls’ three big men get in foul trouble, they could be in trouble as a team. Miller has plenty of experience defending Shaq from his days with the Kings against the Lakers, so that should help. The other defensive matchups are pretty even, so as long as the Bulls can play solid defense around the rim they should be able to hang with the Cavs.
The under is 4-1 in the last five meetings between these teams. The home team is 18-8 ATS in the last 26 meetings. The Bulls are 3-10 ATS in their last 13 meetings in Cleveland. The underdog is 4-1 in the last five meetings between these teams.
Ryno’s Pick: I like the UNDR 191.5 in this matchup.