NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals: #1 Miami Heat vs #5 Chicago Bulls
2013 NBA Playoffs – Eastern Conference Semifinals
#1 Miami Heat vs #5 Chicago Bulls
Best of Seven Series Format: 2-2-1-1-1
Series Price: (odds courtesy of Bookmaker) Heat -4000 / Bulls +1500
Game #1, Monday, May 6, 2013, 7:05 pm Eastern, TV: TNT
American Airlines Arena – Miami, Florida
Opening Line: Miami -11 1/2
Current Line: Miami -11 1/2
Opening Total: 186
Current Total: 186
Opening Money Line: Heat -1000 / Bulls +700
Current Money Line: Heat -1000 / Bulls +700
The Miami Heat resume their quest for a second straight NBA title Monday night after an unprecedented first round bye. No, it just seemed like a bye as the Heat swept the #8 Milwaukee Bucks. Miami won all four games by double digits despite not playing a full game to their capability. The Heat did just enough to win, much like they were resting during the playoffs. The Heat won 66 games in the regular season, six games better than anyone else. Miami has gone 39-2 in their last 41 games, including the playoffs.
While Miami has been relaxing on South Beach for the last 8 days, their second round opponent has been fighting for their lives. The #5 seed Chicago Bulls made the playoffs despite former NBA MVP Guard Derrick Rose missing the entire season after tearing his ACL in the playoffs last year. Chicago took a 3-1 series lead against the #4 seed Brooklyn Nets in this year’s playoffs.
The Bulls then were decimated by injuries and the flu to key players like Kirk Hinrich, Nate Robinson, Taj Gibson, Luol Deng, and Joakim Noah. The Nets would win games 5 and 6 to force game seven Saturday night in Brooklyn. The Bulls gave a gritty, tough performance in games six and seven. Hinrich missed the last 3 games with a calf injury. Deng is out indefinitely after complications from a spinal tap. Robinson and Gibson played in game six and seven despite having the flu. Noah still isn’t a 100% as he recovers from a foot injury. Still the Bulls had a chance to win game six but lost 95-92. Despite the injuries, Chicago was able to pull out game 7 in Brooklyn 99-93 against a healthy more talented Nets team.
Rose has been practicing with the team for almost 2 months now, and warms up with the team every game. There is an outside shot he could return against the Heat, but Rose has said he isn’t mentally ready yet, despite being cleared physically by the team doctors. Many people across the country are pressuring Rose to return, especially with the way his teammates are gutting it out through injuries and illness.
Miami and Chicago have split the season series 2-2 this season. Chicago won at Miami 96-89 January 4. Miami won in Chicago 86-67 February 21. The Bulls won at home March 27 101-97. The loss snapped a 27 game winning streak for the Heat, the second longest in NBA history. Miami won 105-93 April 14 at home. In that game both teams were pretty much locked into their playoff positions, but they still played it with a lot of intensity.
Miami is coached by Eric Spoelstra. The Heat are 48-37 ATS this season and the total is 42-41-2. Miami is outscoring teams 103-95 this season. The Heat are #5 in scoring and in points allowed. Miami is shooting 49.6% from the field and 39.6% from 3 point range. The Heat lead the league in field goal shooting and are #2 in 3 point shooting. Miami makes 75.4% of their free throws. The Heat are last in the league in rebounding at 38.6 per game, and fourth in rebounds allowed with 40.1. Miami opponents are shooting 44% from the field and 35% from 3 point range. Miami is 11th or better in both categories. The Heat average 23 assists, 8.7 steals, 5.4 blocks, and 13.3 turnovers per game.
In the playoffs, forward LeBron James is averaging 24.5 points, 7.8.1 rebounds, 6.8 assists, and 1 steal per game. He won his fourth MVP award Sunday. Guard Dwyane Wade averages 13.7 points, 7 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 3 steals per game. He is probable with a bruised knee that kept him out of game 4 against Milwaukee . Forward/center Chris Bosh averages 12.8 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assists, and 1.8 blocks per game. Guard Ray Allen averages 16.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists. Point guard Mario Chalmers averages 6.5 points, 3 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. Forward Shane Battier averages 5 points and 2.3 rebounds. Norris Cole, Rashard Lewis, Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller, and Chris Andersen make up the rest of the rotation.
The Bulls are coached by Tom Thibodeau. Chicago is outscoring teams 93.2-92.9 this season. The Bulls are 29th in scoring and 3rd in points allowed. The Bulls are shooting 43.7% from the field and 35.3% from 3 point range. Chicago is 21st or worse in both categories. The Bulls are #6 in free throw shooting making 77.3% from the line. Chicago averages 43.2 rebounds per game and give up 41.1 per game. Chicago is 8th or better in both categories. Bulls’ opponents are shooting 44.3% from the field and 34.6% from 3 point range. They are in the top 10 in both categories. Chicago averages 22.8 assists, 7.2 steals, 5.5 blocks, and 14.7 turnovers.
In the playoffs, small forward Luol Deng averages 13.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1 steal per game. Forward Carlos Boozer averages 17.4 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2 assists per game. Noah averages 11.4 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.3 steals, and 3.1 blocks. He has a foot injury. Pojnt guard Nate Robinson averages 17 points, 1.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1 steal a game. Richard Hamilton, Marco Belinelli, Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler and Hinrich make up the rest of the rotation. Hinrich is questionable with the calf injury.
Chicago is 4-1 ATS in conference semifinal games, 1-4 against Southeast teams, 1-8 after a win and 0-6 after a cover. The home team is 5-2 ATS in the last 7 in this series.
Miami is 7-1 ATS after a straight up win of 10 points, 6-1 after a straight up win, overall, against Eastern Conference teams, and against Central Division teams, 4-1 after a cover, 10-3 on 3 or more days rest, 18-7-1 in conference semifinal games, 5-2 at home, and 9-4 against teams with winning records.
Although Miami is clearly the better team, Chicago will not back down. The gritty Bulls are banged up, but I still say they win at least a game in this series just through their toughness and tenacity. Miami could suffer some rust after being off for 8 days. Keep an eye on Wade’s knee. However, Chicago would kill to have problems like that. Miami wins big tonight and wins the series in 5 games.