NBA Playoffs: Pacers Giving Bulls a Fight
by Richard Gardner | Bodog Sportsbook Manager - 4/19/2011
Maybe they didn’t know they were supposed to have no chance. Or maybe they were just playing possum during the regular season. Whatever it is, the Indiana Pacers are giving the Chicago Bulls a series.
To refresh your memory, Indiana was the only team in the league to qualify for the playoffs with a losing record (37-45) and found itself matched up in the first round with the Bulls, who finished with the NBA’s best record (62-20).
In Game 1 of the best-of-seven at the United Center on Saturday, Bodog had the Bulls by double digits. But the huge point spread hardly dissuaded bettors from backing the home team. This was going to be a bloodbath.
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Except it didn’t turn out that way.
The Bulls were forced to go on a 16-1 run over the final 3:38 to beat the Pacers 104-99. The top seed escaped with a 1-0 series lead, but the late rally wasn’t enough for those who bet on Chicago to cover the spread.
The Pacers were once again double-digit dogs for Game 2 on Monday, and once again the betting support for the home team was strong. After all, the Bulls would be ready for this one. They wouldn’t be caught sleeping again. Take it from Chicago’s best player, Derrick Rose.
"From the beginning I guess we weren't prepared for it,” Rose said following Game 1. “Next time I think we'll be ready."
So much for that. Just like Game 1, the Bulls had to dig down deep to win, this time by a final score of 96-90. And once again Rose had to explain what happened.
"Our play has to get better," Rose said. "We have to be more smooth, more efficient, especially on the defensive end where we have to try a lot harder.”
So now the series heads to Indianapolis for Game 3 on Thursday. The Pacers will once again be underdogs, although not by double digits, but can they keep running with the Bulls?
I’ll be curious to see how bettors play this one. On the one hand, the Pacers have covered the first two games of the series and now they’re home underdogs in what should be a raucous Conseco Fieldhouse.
“We know it’s going to be tough,” Rose said about playing on the road against a team that has to be feeling pretty good about itself, even though it’s just two games away from being swept.
On the other hand, this is still a mismatch. It wasn’t a fluke that the Bulls were able to pull two victories out of the jaws of defeat. They’re a very good team, and they’re led by Rose, who’s the league MVP in the eyes of many. It’s going to be extremely tempting to bet on the visitors if the point spread is in the -4 to -5 vicinity.
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