Cleveland Cavaliers (61-21 SU, 37-43-2 ATS) vs. Chicago Bulls (41-41 SU, 42-38-2 ATS), 7:00 p.m. EST, Thursday, April 22, 2010, United Center, Chicago, Ill. TV: TNT
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Cavaliers -4/Bulls +4
Down 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, the Chicago Bulls are in trouble. They lost the first two games of the series in Cleveland to the Cavaliers, and now they come home in an absolute must-win spot on Thursday night at the United Center.
The Bulls competed in both of the first two games of the series but couldn’t keep either game close enough in the end. They lost Game 1 to the Cavs, 96-83, and then lost Game 2 as well, 112-102. A loss in Game 3 would put the Cavs up 3-0, which is nearly impossible to come back from, so the Bulls have to win this game.
After Joakim Noah made some negative comments about the city of Cleveland, LeBron James took it out on him with 40 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in Game 2. He shot 16-for-23 from the field and only had two turnovers. Antawn Jamison scored 14 points, Mo Williams had 12 points, six assists and no turnovers, and Jamario Moon came off the bench to score 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting from 3-point range.
The Bulls had a balanced attack between Noah, Luol Deng and Derrick Rose. Noah had a monster effort with 25 points and 13 rebounds, Deng had 20 points, six rebounds, five assists and no turnovers, and Rose had 23 points, eight assists and no turnovers. Taj Gibson had 11 points and seven rebounds, and Flip Murray scored 14 points off the bench.
The Cavs shot an incredible 56 percent from the field and 10-for-20 on 3-pointers. The Bulls shot 44 percent from the field and 4-for-13 on 3-pointers. The Bulls held a 37-36 rebounding edge and they committed only four turnovers in the entire game.
If the Bulls protect the ball and limit their turnovers like they did in Game 2, they should be able to win Game 3 at home. They also have to do a better job containing LeBron and preventing the Cavs from knocking down so many 3-pointers. The Cavs outscored the Bulls by 18 points on 3-pointers in Game 2. They have to be more aggressive with their perimeter defense and have better help defense when LeBron gets into the lane.
The Bulls didn’t do badly at all offensively. They scored over 100 points on a very good Cavs defense, which was an improvement from Game 1, and they only had four turnovers. Rose, Noah and Deng all had strong offensive performances. It’s not their offense that needs to get better. It’s their defense. The Cavs have a lot of guys who can shoot, so the Bulls have to play tighter defense and stop the Cavs from getting open perimeter jumpers.
Rose had 28 points and 10 assists in Game 1. He is having a very good series so far, as he did in the first round of the playoffs against the Boston Celtics last season. He needs to continue being aggressive and using his size to his advantage to score points. He has a significant size advantage over whichever guard defends him. Rose’s strength is getting into the lane and knocking down mid-range jumpers. Rose is the guy who will have to carry the Bulls to victory.
The Cavs are 6-1 ATS in their last seven conference quarterfinals games, 19-7-1 ATS in their last 27 playoff games as a favorite, 2-6 ATS in their last eight games following an ATS loss, 2-7 ATS in their last nine games as a favorite, 1-4 ATS in their last five games overall, and 1-6 ATS in their last seven games when their opponent scored 100 points or more in their previous game. The Bulls are 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall, 6-2 ATS in their last eight games as an underdog, 6-2 ATS in their last eight playoff games as an underdog, and 24-10 ATS in their last 34 games following an ATS win.
The under is 5-2 in the last seven meetings between these teams. The home team is 19-9 ATS in the last 28 meetings between these teams and the underdog is 5-2 in the last seven meetings.
Ryno’s Pick: Joakim Noah never should have opened his mouth. All he’s done is motivate LeBron to not just beat them, but crush them. Look for the Cavs to win tonight at Chicago by 7+.