NBA Picks: 76ers at Bulls Game 5 Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 5/8/2012
The Chicago Bulls-Philadelphia 76ers Eastern Conference quarterfinal series was good to us last week when I previewed Game 2, with the Sixers not just covering as 6.5-point underdogs but blowing out a Bulls team that clearly was devastated in its first game without the injured Derrick Rose.
And it appears the Bulls still aren’t over Rose’s season-ending ACL injury as they have dropped three straight in this series and are on the verge of becoming the fifth No. 1 seed to be knocked out by a No. 8 in the NBA Playoffs, which could come as soon as Tuesday night as the series returns to the Windy City for Game 5. Just two No. 8 seeds have done it since 2003, when the league extended the first round to a best-of-seven series. The last was Memphis over San Antonio in six games last year.
76ers at Bulls Betting Story Lines
One has to wonder what the Bulls really do have left in the tank. Not only will they obviously be without Rose for Game 5, they also will be without their emotional leader and defensive anchor, center Joakim Noah. He badly sprained his ankle in the Game 3 loss and sat out Chicago’s 89-82 Game 4 defeat on Sunday. Noah already has been ruled out for Game 5 on Tuesday, and his status for the remainder of the first round is in doubt. He still can’t put any weight on the ankle and it’s still swollen.
Noah was badly missed as 76ers center Spencer Hawes dominated down low Sunday with 22 points (on 9-for-11 shooting), eight rebounds and three blocks. This from a guy who averaged 9.6 points per game during the season. Omer Asik made his third career and first postseason start in place of Noah, finishing with one point and six rebounds in 22 minutes, 30 seconds. Noah left Game 3 for good with seven minutes, 58 seconds to play. In the 15:13 span from the time Asik took Noah's place until he sat for the first time Sunday, the Sixers outscored Chicago, 37-13.
In addition, Bulls small forward Luol Deng fell hard on his already injured left wrist in Game 4. He played through it, but Deng finished with just 11 points. He probably misses Rose more than anyone, having totaled just 24 points on 10-for-30 shooting in the past three games after putting up 17 on 8-of-14 from the field in the Game 1 victory. Deng tore a ligament in his wrist on Jan. 21 but has put off surgery to fix the injury until after he plays for Team Great Britain at the London Olympics this summer.
It was thought that the final championship piece for Chicago was added this offseason in shooting guard Richard Hamilton, but Coach Tom Thibodeau clearly doesn’t trust the guy in the fourth quarter – Hamilton played only 27 seconds in the fourth on Sunday. The fourth quarter has been a killer so far for Chicago as the Bulls have been outscored 79-56 in that frame in the past three games. After scoring 19 points in Game 1 on just seven shots, Hamilton is 11-for-34 from the field in the past three.
Chicago players complained about the officiating in Game 4 and the free-throw discrepancy does seem a little odd. The Sixers had 31 attempts to the Bulls’ 17 in Game 4. During the regular season, Philly almost set the single-season NBA record for fewest free-throw attempts per game (18.15). But in this series they are averaging 27.5 free throws and have topped 30 three times, something they managed to do only four times in the regular season. The Sixers have made more free throws (84) in the series than the Bulls have attempted (79). In the final two minutes of the past two games, all 14 of Philly’s points have come from the line.
76ers at Bulls Betting Odds and Key Trends
The Bulls opened as five-point favorites with the total at 171.5 (about 60 percent of thee early action is on Philly). Chicago was 17-15-1 ATS this season at home and 14-18-1 on the ‘over/under’. Sixers were 16-16-1 ATS on road and 19-14 O/U.
Philadelphia is 5-2 ATS in its past seven road games. The Sixers are 5-1 ATS in past six games after a win. Chicago is 5-1 ATS in its past six as a favorite (that loss being in Game 2). The over is 7-1 in Philly’s past eight road games. The under is 5-0 in Chicago’s past five games after a loss. The favorite has covered in five of the past six meetings.
NBA Picks: 76ers at Bulls Betting Predictions
This is Chicago’s first three-game skid since last year’s Eastern Conference Finals loss to the Heat. It’s Philly’s first three-game winning streak in the playoffs since Allen Iverson led the Sixers to the 2001 NBA Finals. Philadelphia hasn’t won a playoff series since 2003 and hasn’t won four straight playoff games since 1985. That all changes Tuesday night as the Bulls are just mentally gassed with all these injuries. Take Philly and the over.
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