NBA Picks: Heat at Bulls Game 4 Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 5/24/2011
When the Eastern Conference Finals opened, the Chicago Bulls would have been happy to let Chris Bosh be the leading Heat scorer in any game and take their chances. That worked out fine in Game 1. But in Sunday’s Game 3, a 96-85 Heat victory that gave Miami a 2-1 series lead, Bosh was arguably the best player on the floor with 34 points, including making 13 of his final 15 shots (and eight straight at one point). Bosh's performance allowed LeBron James to mostly be a facilitator, as he had 10 assists and 22 points on 6-of-13 shooting. Dwyane Wade was held mostly in check with 17 points and nine rebounds. Sunday’s victory was the first for the Heat this season against the Bulls when being outrebounded (41-32).
Now the Bulls might have to revisit their defensive scheme heading into a must-win Game 4 in South Florida on Tuesday night. If Bosh makes them pay for focusing on James and Wade, this series will be over soon. How crippling would a third straight loss be for Chicago? It hasn’t lost three straight games all season. The Bulls hadn’t even lost two straight since Feb. 5-7.
Bulls at Heat Story Lines
Everyone talked about how great the Bulls were on defense – TNT’s Charles Barkley saying it was the best team defense he had ever seen – following Game 1. But it has been the Heat defense that has stole the show the past two games. Quite simply, they are doubling down on Derrick Rose whenever the Bulls try to run a pick-and-roll. Chicago just doesn’t have a shooter who can get his own shot to make the Heat pay for this strategy. In Game 3, Rose had 20 points, but he shot only 8 for 19 and managed only five assists, fewer than center Joakim Noah, who was otherwise invisible with one point, five rebounds and an apparent gay slur to a Heat fan that will draw a hefty fine.
Plus, that Chicago defense has been a bit exposed. The Bulls allowed the Heat to shoot 50.7 percent in Game 3, a long way from their league-best 43 percent allowed during the season. And that Bulls defense could be without key reserve center Omer Asik in Game 4. He is day-to-day with a muscle strain in his left leg. Asik suffered the injury in the third quarter of Game 3 and did not return. The Bulls would have to dust off veteran Kurt Thomas if Asik can’t play. One of Chicago’s key advantages over Miami was bench depth, so obviously losing Asik would hurt.
One positive for Chicago in Game 3 was Carlos Boozer, who led the Bulls with 26 points and 17 rebounds. The Bulls need him to stay that aggressive to help Rose, who has scored just two fourth-quarter points in the last two games. He had no assists in the first half Sunday, only the 11th time in his career that has happened. Sunday’s performance followed a disappointing Game 2 in which Rose scored 21 but shot just 7 for 23.
Bulls at Heat Betting Odds and Key Trends
Miami has opened as a five-point favorite with the total at 178, according to NBA odds. The Heat are 7-0 at home in the playoffs (5-2 ATS). Chicago is 3-3 on the road in the postseason (3-3 ATS).
Chicago is 5-1 ATS in its past six as a dog of at least five points.
Miami is 5-0 ATS in its past five as a favorite.
The ‘under’ is 5-1 in Chicago’s past six as a road dog.
The ‘over’ is 5-0 in Miami’s past five road games.
The home team has covered in seven of the past 10 meetings.
NBA Picks: Bulls at Heat Predictions
The Heat don’t seem likely to lose at home – they have won eight consecutive home playoff games, tying the franchise record set during the run to the 2006 NBA championship. But expect Rose and the Bulls to play with more urgency in Game 4 and at least cover. Defense has ruled this series but that total is awfully low. Take the ‘over’.
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