NBA Picks: Bulls at Pacers Game 3 Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 4/21/2011
In many ways the Chicago Bulls were the chic pick to win the NBA title when the playoffs began even though they were only the third-favorites behind the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat. All those TV talking heads started jumping on the Bulls’ bandwagon when they finished the regular season with nine consecutive wins and the NBA’s best overall record. It’s funny how that bandwagon emptied quickly despite Chicago being up 2-0 on eighth-seeded Indiana.
How the Teams Enter
The Pacers probably should have won at least one if not both of the games in Chicago thus far, but Derrick Rose was a one-man wrecking crew and Kyle Korver hit key late shots in both games. In Monday’s 96-90 Game 2 victory, Rose scored eight points over the final four minutes and Korver hit another big three-pointer to make it 90-85 with just over a minute left after hitting the tiebreaker in the opener. Rose followed his career playoff-high 39 points in Game 1 with 36 points, eight rebounds and six assists in Game 2. About the only thing the Bulls are doing well so far is rebounding – they beat Indiana 57-33 on the boards in Game 2. The Pacers have been dominated 106-67 on the glass overall and have allowed 41 offensive rebounds. Yet they have led each game by double digits.
Bulls at Pacers Betting Story Lines
Chicago’s problem has for the most part been that a secondary scorer hasn’t stepped up. That guy was supposed to be Carlos Boozer, but he was limited by foul trouble in Game 1. He was better in Game 2 with 17 points and 16 rebounds, but there was a 16-minute stretch in which he didn't attempt a field goal. Rose is averaging 17 free-throw attempts per game and 37.5 points per game, while the next closest Bulls scorer, Luol Deng, is only at 16 ppg.
There is simply no way the Pacers can let Rose get off again, so look for plenty of trapping and double-teams. What Indiana is often doing is stashing its point guard – be it Darren Collison or A.J. Price – on Bulls starting two-guard Keith Bogans because Bogans isn’t a threat offensively. Then the Pacers use 6-foot-8 Paul George, for example, as the main guy on Rose. The different looks have led to Chicago averaging 18.5 turnovers and just 41.2 percent shooting so far.
Speaking of Collison, his status could be vital for Game 3. Collison left Monday’s game late in the first half with a badly sprained left ankle when he stepped on a cameraman and didn’t return. Indiana led by nine when Collison went out. The Pacers then turned the ball over on seven of their first 13 possessions afterward. The Bulls went on a 23-5 run to take a 59-52 lead midway through the third quarter. Collison says he plans to play in Game 3 even if he’s only 60-70 percent. Price would start if Collison can’t go. In 24 Game 2 minutes, Price had 13 points and one assist. He committed four turnovers in the first five minutes following Collison's injury but then didn’t commit another. T.J. Ford would come out of mothballs and get some minutes again as well. He has played a total of only 30 minutes in the past three months.
Bulls at Pacers Betting Odds and Key Trends
Chicago has opened as a 4.5-point favorite with the total at 189, according to NBA odds.
The Bulls are 1-4 ATS in their past five games overall. They like Thursdays, however, going 6-0 ATS in the past six games on that day.
The Pacers covered five of their final seven regular-season home games vs. teams with a winning road record.
The ‘over’ is 6-2 in Chicago’s past eight road games.
The ‘over’ is 6-0 in Indiana’s past six as a home dog.
Bulls at Pacers Prediction
The last time these two teams played in Indianapolis, on March 18, the Pacers won 115-108 in overtime. That was the only Central Division loss suffered by the Bulls this year. That game looked rather familiar to the first two of this series as Rose tied a career high with 42 points, including 19 in the fourth quarter. The two keys here in my mind are if Collison plays and which Tyler Hansbrough shows up. Hansbrough was excellent in Game 1 with 22 points, but was thoroughly outplayed by Boozer in Game 2 with the former Tar Heel going 2-for-12 from the field for 6 points. I would hold off betting on this until Collison’s status is known. If he plays, I take Indy and the points. If not, go with the Bulls. And take the ‘over’.
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