Chicago Bulls AT Miami Heat
May 24, 2011 at 8:30 PM EST
Opening Line: MIA -5
Current Line: MIA -5
Opening Moneyline: MIA -400, CHI +330
Current Moneyline: MIA -400, CHI +320
Opening Total: 178
Current Total: 179
Heat Lead Series 2-1
The Heat came out and took control of game 3, leading pretty much from the beginning of the game and never faltering along the way. The Bulls haven’t lost three consecutive games all season, and they don’t want to think that this could be the exception — and put them on the brink of elimination.
Still, Miami Heat coach Erik Spolestra is not taking anything for granted. He realizes the urgency of the game, even when the Heat are up in the series 2-1. “All we’ve done to this point is do exactly what they did at home,” Spolestra commented. “They won the first game at home and we have to find a way in a possession game to come out ahead again tomorrow night. There is not going to be one easy possession in this series.”
The Bulls’ problems begin and end with the remedy of Derrick Rose. Over these last two games, both Bulls losses, Rose has went 15 of 42 from the floor (35%), well below his season field goal percentage of 44%. His aggression would worry most teams, but not the Heat. Their philosophy has been “Let Derrick get his…” while shutting down his teammates.
The Heat have quite the different situation with three perennial All-Stars. Just having two of them go off almost guarantees a victory and the Heat are 38-5 when the “big 3″ scores 70 points or more. Again: 38-5. Wade counts his blessings in having teammates that can actually produce and score points. His second fiddle last season was Michael Beasley; and while Beasley is not a bad player by any means, he’s certainly no LeBron James — or even Chris Bosh for that matter.
“There’s a reason why we’re playing together,” Wade said. “After so many years of that, you want to do something else. That’s the reason we’re playing together. But he has a good team. … He’s in a little different world than we were in.”
Rose knows the fix isn’t easy, but pointing to an obvious deficiency may bring a piece of mind. Rose cited the lack of intensity from his teammates and poor rebounding for the loss. “We have to bring more intensity to the game,” Rose said Monday. “We have to be the first to the floor, first on the rebounding side. Guards still have to get in and rebound and help the bigs. And we have to play more aggressive on both ends. Way more.”
It really all comes down to this for Bulls fans and players, however: Tonight is a must win. There have only been eight teams to come back from a 3-1 deficit out of 199 series. That means the team that takes the 3-1 lead wins an astounding 96% of series. While LeBron may be jesting, he still feels the sense of urgency, knowing that it will require a full team effort to put away a Chicago team that won 62 games this season, its most since that one guy used to don number 23.
“We’re playing desperate too,” James said. “Both teams are playing hard. We’re just as desperate as they are to win another game at home.”
While “desperate” may be a bit of a stretch, the Heat realize that a loss tonight would essentially set them back to a 3 game series, one in which the Bulls would have home court advantage in. Joakim Noah doesn’t see a need for negativity, though, realizing one win can change the entire demeanor of a team.
“Thibs always talks about walking through a fire together,” Noah said. “That’s what it’s all about. You win Game 1, there is a lot of love after the game. You lose two, it’s like the end of the world. But if we can get this one on Tuesday tied up going home, that would be a good position to be in.”
Chris Bosh, after getting off to a rough and confused start this season as the “third fiddle” of the big 3, has finally begun to show the brilliance he did during his days as a Toronto Raptor. In 2 of the 3 games in this series, Bosh has scored 30+, something he only did only twice in the entire regular season, while averaging the least amount of points (18.7) since his second year (04-05) in the league when he averaged 16.8 points per game. “It is the Eastern Conference finals and it’s coming down to will and determination,” Bosh said. “I want people to know I want it.”
Bulls power forward Carlos Boozer finally came around in game 3, scoring 26 points and grabbing 17 rebounds, a performance that would have been considered typical while he was a member of the Utah Jazz. Up until last game, backup Taj Gibson had been considerably more impressive than Boozer, especially in game 1 when he had two monsterous show-stopping jams that brought Bulls fans to their feet. Boozer remains confident, as he has been battle tried and tested in the playoffs throughout his career…“We’re confident,” Boozer said. “We’re a confident group of guys. We believe in our system and we believe in each other. We believe we can get a win.”
Some betting trends:
Chicago is 36-33 ATS vs. the Heat since 1996 and they are 39-33 SU against the Heat since 1996. 37 of the 72 meetings in that span have gone UNDER the total. Miami is 7-6 ATS vs. Chicago over the last three seasons and 8-6 SU against the Heat over the last three seasons. 8 of the 14 games between these teams have gone UNDER the total over that span.
At home, the Heat are 4-2 ATS vs. the Bulls over the last three seasons, while the Heat are 5-1 SU at home against the Bulls over the last three seasons. In those six games, half of them have went OVER the total.
The Bulls remain confident. There is one thing, however, that seems to scream “Miami win….” The Heat are 7-0 this year at home in the playoffs. Will the Bulls hand them their first home loss of the 2011 playoffs?