Apparently Bulls general manager Gar Forman and VP of basketball operations John Paxson learned no lessons from their team's mediocrity this season. Bulls fans were hoping for big changes during the duo's exit interview with the media Wednesday but got nothing of the sort. Coach Fred Hoiberg will return even though Paxson acknowledged there was no consistency to Hoiberg's lineups or allotment of playing time. The Bulls want to see more of their young guys but, yes, they probably will bring Rajon Rondo back as well. At least they have a choice on Rondo. It's up to Dwyane Wade if he wants to take a $24 million option for next season, and since Wade is going to be 36 in January and incapable of playing more than around 60 regular-season games these days, it would be a shock if Wade doesn't come back. He's not getting anywhere close to $24 million on the open market. So enjoy another .500 season and first-round exit in 2017-18 Bulls fans. Mediocrity is the worst possible status an NBA franchise can have. Here are the NBA playoff games on Cinco de Mayo.
Free $60 in Member NBA Picks No Obligation Click Here
Game 3: Cavaliers at Raptors ( +2, 214)
A 7 p.m. ET tip on ESPN with Cleveland leading 2-0 as the series shifts to Toronto.The Cavs are -2000 series favorites. While I hit the total for Game 2 between these teams, I really should have stuck with my gut on the side. I originally typed in the Cavs to cover because they have dominated the Raptors in Cleveland of late. Then again, I thought Toronto would at least show some heart to cover the 7.5-point spread in Game 2. Nope. Cleveland rolled 125-103 behind 39 points from LeBron James, who passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for second on the all-time playoff list. James is now 211 behind Michael Jordan, so that's likely broken in these playoffs. I should mention that Jordan's 5,987 points were in 179 games and James' 5,777 are in 205. Dating to last year's incredible Finals comeback vs. Golden State, the Cavs have won nine playoff games in a row and James is averaging 34.9 points, 10.0 rebounds and 8.1 assists in them. Are the Cavs fixed, though? Not defensively. They are only the third team in postseason history to win its first six playoff games while allowing at least 100 points in each. The last was the Showtime 1984-85 Lakers.
DeMar DeRozan has looked like the most overpaid player in the NBA in this series so far - even though players don't get paid in the playoffs. The Cavs are focusing on him and it's working. DeRozan had just one point through three quarters in Game 2 (the game was long over by then) and finished with five on 2-for-11 shooting. Cleveland is double-teaming him and not allowing him to get to the basket (DeRozan isn't much of a 3-point shooter) to draw fouls. In last season's East Finals, DeRozan led the Raptors by averaging 23 points and shooting 50 percent against the Cavs. Meanwhile, All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry had to leave Game 2 with an ankle sprain. He was hurt at the beginning of the third and did play for a while but not in the fourth with the game out of hand. I'm sure he's playing here but probably not close to 100 percent.
Key trends: The Cavs are 4-1 against the spread in their past five road games. The Raptors are 1-4 ATS in their past five at home. The "over/under" is 7-0 in the Cavs' past seven on Friday. It's 4-1 in the previous five meetings.
Early lean: I've been right on the total twice in this series and like the over better than the side here. I was thinking Toronto might win Game 3 but now worry about Lowry's ankle so take Cleveland.
Also an ESPN game with a 9:30 p.m. ET start and the series tied heading to Houston. The Rockets are -115 series favorites. San Antonio point guard Tony Parker is going to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer and he's on the Mount Rushmore along with Dirk Nowitzki, Hakeem Olajuwon and whomever else of greatest foreign-born players ever in the NBA. Alas, Parker's career might now be over. San Antonio evened the series in a 121-96 blowout on Wednesday. Kawhi Leonard was spectacular with 34 points on 13-for-16 shooting, eight assists, seven rebounds, three steals and lock-down defense on James Harden. But the Spurs lost for winning because Parker went down without contact while trying a runner in the lane with 8:43 left in the fourth quarter. Parker landed awkwardly on his left leg without contact. He was having a great game with 18 points (8-for-13 shooting), four assists and three rebounds when it happened. Earlier in Game 2, he had joined LeBron as the league's only players to have scored 4,000 points and dished 1,000 assists in their postseason careers. You pretty much knew what was coming Thursday: Parker is done for the season due to a ruptured left quadriceps tendon.
Parker will be 35 on May 17 and looked past-his-prime often during the regular season, also missing 19 games. But in these playoffs, he was averaging 15.9 points on 52.6 percent shooting along with 3.1 assists. During the 19 games Parker missed during the regular season, San Antonio went 15-4 (.789) with a plus-6.8 point differential. Still, it's a huge loss, not just from an on-court perspective but he's the leader of the team and has seen it all in the playoffs. Aussie Patty Mills should start going forward, and he might be a better player than Parker most nights. So the problem might not be when Mills is on the court but when he has to take a break or should he get into foul trouble. Remember how the Rockets crushed the Thunder in Round 1 whenever Russell Westbrook took a breather? We could see something similar here when Mills is sitting and Manu Ginobili (he looks largely shot) or rookie Dejounte Murray or Jonathan Simmons takes over. You probably see Leonard handle the ball more too, as if he needs more responsibilities.
Key trends: The Rockets are 1-6 ATS in their past seven at home. The over is 6-0 in the Spurs' past six on the road.
Early lean: The heavy early lean is on Houston and I'm sure that will only get bigger as bettors learn of the Parker news. So I'll go contrarian and take the points - hoping for more by tipoff. Go over.
Want free sports betting picks? Doc's Sports has you covered - get $60 worth of picks free from any of Doc's Sports expert handicappers. Click here for free picks (new clients only) .
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Most Recent NBA Handicapping Articles
- Free NBA Picks: Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
- Free NBA Picks: Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
- Free NBA Picks: Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
- Free NBA Picks: Friday, Dec. 8, 2017, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
- Expert NBA Handicapping: Reasons for Houston Rockets Success
- Free NBA Picks: Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
- Free NBA Picks: Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
- Expert NBA Betting Advice: Teams With No Playoff Hope
- Free NBA Picks: Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
- Expert NBA Handicapping: Biggest League Disappointments