2017 NBA Playoffs
Eastern Conference First Round Game #3
#1 Boston Celtics at #8 Chicago Bulls
Bulls lead Best of Seven Series 2-0
Friday, April 21, 2017, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
United Center – Chicago, Illinois
Opening Line: Chicago -1 1/2
Current Line: Boston -2
Opening Total: 207
Current Total: 206
Opening Money Line: Bulls -120 / Celtics +100
Current Money Line: Celtics -135 / Bulls +115
The Chicago Bulls barely qualified for the playoffs by beating the lowly Brooklyn Nets on the last night of the regular season. Still the Bulls won the first two games of the first round series against the #1 seed Boston Celtics in Boston. The last time a #1 seed lost the first two games at home in a first round series was the Phoenix Suns in 1993. The Suns actually came back to win that series and went on to the Finals, but the first round was best of five back then. The Celtics look to get back in the series with game three in Chicago Friday night.
Boston is coached by Brad Stevens. The Celtics won the Atlantic Division at 53-29 by two games over the Toronto Raptors. The Celtics are 40-42-2 ATS and the total is 41-39-4 this season.
Chicago is coached by Fred Hoiberg. The Bulls finished fourth in the Central Division at 41-41 and won a tiebreaker over the Miami Heat for the last playoff spot in the East. The Bulls are 44-40 ATS and the total is 33-50-1 this season.
Chicago won game one 106-102 and game two 111-97 Tuesday night. Boston was a 7.5 point favorite in game two and the total was 206.5. Boston jumped out to an early 10-9 lead but would never lead again. The Bulls would lead 31-26 after the first, and 54-46 at halftime. The Bulls would lead 86-75 at the end of the third, and the Celtics never got closer than 9 points in the fourth. Chicago cruised to a 14 point win.
Chicago shot 45/88 from the field including 10/25 from three point range. The Bulls made 11 of 14 free throws. Chicago had 49 rebounds, 28 assists, 12 turnovers, 12 steals and six blocks. The Bulls had 14 fast break points and 44 points in the paint. Boston shot 38/82 from the field including 10/33 from three point range. The Celtics made 11 of 19 free throws. Boston had 49 rebounds, 26 assists, 16 turnovers, six steals and four blocks. The Celtics had 9 fast break points and 52 points in the paint.
All five Chicago starters scored in double digits. Jimmy Butler had 22 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocks. Dwyane Wade had 22 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists. Robin Lopez had 18 points, and 8 rebounds. Paul Zipser had 16 points off the bench. Nikola Mirotic had 13 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks. Rajon Rondo had 11 points, 14 assists, 9 rebounds, and 5 steals. He suffered a broken thumb though and is out indefinitely.
Isaiah Thomas had 20 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists for the Celtics. Jae Crowder had 16 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds. Marcus Smart had 13 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and a block. Avery Bradley had 12 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists. Kelly Olynyk had 11 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds. Al Horford had 7 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 assists.
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Boston is outscoring teams 108-105 this season. The Celtics are #7 in scoring. Boston is shooting 45.4% from the field and 35.9% from 3 point range. Boston make 80.7% of their free throws and are #3 in that category. Opponents are shooting 45% from the field and 33.2% from 3 point range. The Celtics are #2 in 3 point defense and #9 in field goal defense. Boston averages 42 rebounds per game and opponents average 44.5 per game. The Celtics are #25 or worse in both categories. Boston averages 24.4 assists, 13.2 turnovers, 8.2 steals and 3.5 blocks per game.
Isaiah Thomas averages 28.9 points, 2.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game. The MVP candidate is still grieving after the loss of his sister last week. He flew to Tacoma to be with his family after game two and is listed as probable for game three. Avery Bradley averages 16.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Al Horford averages 14 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5 assists and 1.3 blocks per game. Jae Crowder averages 13.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. Marcus Smart averages 10.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Kelly Olynyk averages 9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2 assists per game. Jaylen Brown, Amir Johnson, Gerald Green, Terry Rozier, Jonas Jerebko, and Tyler Zeller will also get minutes in the rotation.
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Chicago is outscoring teams 103-102. The Bulls are #6 in points allowed and #23 in scoring this season. Chicago is shooting 44.4% from the field and 34% from 3 point range. The Bulls are #24 or worse in both categories. The Bulls are #6 in free throw shooting at 79.8% from the line. Opponents are shooting 45.6% from the field and 34.4% from 3 point range. The Bulls are #6 in three point defense. Chicago averages 46.3 rebounds per game and opponents average 43.2 per game. The Bulls are #3 in rebounding. Chicago averages 22.6 assists, 13 turnovers, 7.8 steals and 4.8 blocks per game.
Jimmy Butler averages 23.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 1.9 steals per game. Dwyane Wade averages 18.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Nikola Mirotic averages 10.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game. Robin Lopez averages 10.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1 assist and 1.4 blocks per game. Rajon Rondo averages 7.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Bobby Portis, Michael Carter-Williams, Jerian Grant, Paul Zipser, Denzel Valentine, and Cameron Payne will also get minutes in the rotation.
Boston is 5-1 ATS after a double digit loss, 3-7 after allowing 100 points or more, 3-8 against Eastern Conference teams, 7-19 on two days rest, 3-9 overall, 1-4 against Central Division teams, 0-4 in Friday games and in first round games. The under is 5-2 in Chicago between the teams. The favorite is 7-3 in this series recently.
Chicago is 4-0 ATS overall, against Eastern Conference teams, and after scoring 100 points or more, 7-1 against teams with winning records, 4-1 against Atlantic Division teams, 6-2 in conference quarterfinal games, 23-9 on two days rest, 5-2 at home, 7-3 after a double digit win, and 3-8 in Friday games. The home team is 7-2 ATS in this series recently. The Bulls are 19-9-2 ATS against the Celtics including 10-3-1 in Chicago.
This is a virtual must win for Boston as no team in NBA history has ever come back from an 0-3 deficit to win a series. The loss of Rondo hurts Chicago but I think they are still a bad match-up for Boston. I like the Celtics to win a close game to get back into the series.