Nets at Bulls Picks and Game 6 NBA Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 5/2/2013
Let's be honest here: Neither the Chicago Bulls (even if somehow Derrick Rose dramatically returns) or Brooklyn Nets have any chance of upsetting the rested Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals. But the Bulls did give the Heat problems this year with their terrific defense and size, so Chicago could at least make it competitive. That's IF the Bulls finish off the Nets in Game 6 of their first-round series in Chicago on Thursday night. Any Heat series will start on Monday. A victory gives the injury-ravaged Bulls a much-needed three days off. A Brooklyn win extends the series to a seventh game Saturday, meaning the winner of that only has 24 hours off. That probably means a Miami sweep.
Frankly, Thursday's game is the series for Chicago with Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and Taj Gibson all gutting it out through injuries and Kirk Hinrich likely to miss a second straight game with a calf injury. Yet there Rose is sitting on the bench despite being medically cleared and now a full year off ACL surgery. If it goes back to Brooklyn, I believe the Bulls are too battered to have much of a shot on Saturday. In reality, the Nets should be going for the series win on Thursday if not for a miracle rally led by Nate Robinson in the Game 4 epic.
Nets at Bulls Betting Story Lines
Hinrich has been a solid NBA player in his career but is well past his prime at age 32. He averaged 7.7 points and 5.2 rebounds this year in 60 regular-season games. The Bulls probably don't bring him back if Rose wasn't out. Yet Hinrich has emerged as arguably the team's most important player because he's still a tremendous perimeter defensive player in a league full of star point guards. Here's all you need to know: Including Monday's 110-91 loss in Brooklyn: the Bulls are 7-16 when Hinrich doesn't play this year. Chicago is 5-1 against Brooklyn this season when he does. He's unlikely to play Thursday.
Freed of Hinrich on him like glue, Deron Williams had 23 points and 10 assists in Game 5. Hinrich's injury also severely weakens the Chicago bench. Tom Thibodeau was forced to start Robinson in Game 5, and calling Robinson a weak defender is being kind. Robinson did have 20 points and eight assists Monday but wore down playing 44 minutes in Game 5. Williams was 6-for-10 shooting and scored 19 of his 23 points when guarded by Robinson in Game 5; he shot 13-of-39 (33.3 percent) when Hinrich guarded him the first four games.
The injury to Noah and Gibson also showed in Game 5. The former was limited to 28 minutes and had just four rebounds and was a team-worst minus-23. Gibson played only 13 minutes and had one rebound. Thanks largely to those two being gimpy, Brook Lopez dominated with 28 points and 10 rebounds. New Jersey outrebounded the Bulls 44-33 and had a 24-12 advantage in second-chance points. Seventeen of those boards were on the offensive end, and Brooklyn scored the fourth-most points per possession by any Bulls opponent this season.
The offensively-challenged Bulls won't win many games if they don't win the rebounding/second-chance points battles. Lopez, by the way, has scored 20 or more points in all five games of the series, the longest streak by a Nets player in the postseason since Vince Carter in 2007.
Brooklyn's Joe Johnson is battling a foot injury similar to Noah's, saying he'd be sitting if it's the regular season, and backup center Andray Blatche re-aggravated a calf injury on Monday, but both will play in this one. Blatche came up huge in Game 5 with 10 fourth-quarter points and finished with 13 points overall and five rebounds. Reggie Evans didn't practice Wednesday due to illness but also will play.
Nets at Bulls NBA Game 6 Betting Odds and Key Trends
At WagerWeb, Chicago is a two--point favorite (-130 on moneyline) with the total at 184. The Nets were 23-18 ATS on road during regular season and are 1-1 in this series. Brooklyn was 20-20-1 “over/under” on road and is 1-1 in this series. The Bulls were 13-28 ATS at home this season and 16-24-1 O/U at the United Center.
The Nets are 5-0 ATS in their past five playing on two days of rest. Brooklyn is 0-4 ATS in its past four games after an ATS win. The Bulls are 6-20-1 ATS in their past 27 playing on two days of rest. Chicago is 2-5 ATS in its past seven at home. The Bulls are 1-5 ATS in their past six when their opponent scores at least 100 points in its previous game. The under is 7-1 in the Nets' past eight Thursday games. The over is 11-3 in Brooklyn's past 14 road games. The over is 10-2-1 in Chicago's past 13 playing on two days of rest. The over is 5-2 in the Bulls' past seven following an ATS loss.
Nets at Bulls Picks and Game 6 Betting Predictions
As noted above, I think this game is the series. The Nets would make history with a victory as they have never won a playoff elimination Game 6 to force Game 7 in franchise history. I think the extra day off helps the Bulls here, even though Hinrich is almost surely out. No coach gets more out of his players than Thibodeau. Chicago will play with much more intensity back home and cover -- barely. Take the under in what should be a defensive battle like Game 3. The Bulls almost never have two bad defensive games in a row.
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