2015 NBA Playoffs
Eastern Conference – First Round
#3 Chicago Bulls at #6 Milwaukee Bucks
Bulls Lead Best of Seven Series 3-0
Game #4 BMO Bradley Center – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Saturday, April 23, 2015, 5:35 pm Eastern, TV: TNT
Opening Line: Chicago -4
Current Line: Chicago -4 1/2
Opening Total: 188 1/2
Current Total: 188 1/2
Opening Money Line: Bulls -190 / Bucks +160
Current Money Line: Bulls -200 / Bucks +170
Five NBA teams are up 3-0 in their respective first round series, and two more are up 2-0. There have never been more than three first round sweeps in a given year since the NBA expanded the first round to a best of seven series in 2003. There were three first round sweeps in 2004 and 2007. No NBA team has ever come back from a 3-0 series deficit to win the series.
The Chicago Bulls can become the first team to advance to the second round as they travel North to the Milwaukee Bucks for game four of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals Saturday. Chicago won the first two games at home, 103-91 in game one and 91-82 in game two.
The series shifted to Milwaukee for game three Thursday night. The Bulls escaped with a 113-106 win in double overtime to take a commanding 3-0 series lead. Milwaukee led 49-31 with four minutes to go in the second quarter, but the Bulls closed the half on an 18-4 run to to trail by four at the break. Chicago took a 94-84 lead with 2:50 left in the fourth. Milwaukee went on an 11-0 run to take a 95-94 lead. Derrick Rose made one of two free throws to tie the game with 4 seconds left. Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton missed a 27 foot jumper at the buzzer than would have won the game.
In overtime, each team scored six points and it went in double overtime. Neither team scored for the last 2:31 of the first overtime. Chicago scored the first 12 points of the second overtime to take control, and would hold on for the 7 point win.
Derrick Rose was scoreless in the first half of game two, but otherwise has been brilliant in this series. He is playing with the same form as his 2011 MVP season, before knee injuries derailed his seasons since then. Rose missed 31 games this season with a torn meniscus. In game three, Rose played 48 minutes and scored 34 points to go with 8 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals. Jimmy Butler scored 24 points and added 3 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists and 2 blocks. Pau Gasol had 17 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks. Tony Snell added 16 points off the bench. Mike Dunleavy scored 12 points and added 4 rebounds and 3 assists. Joakim Noah had 12 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals. Taj Gibson had 6 points and 10 rebounds.
Milwaukee forward Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 25 points, and added 12 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks. Michael Carter-Williams added 19 points, 9 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals. Khris Middleton had 18 points, 7 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals. John Henson had 15 points, 14 rebounds and 3 blocks off the bench.
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Milwaukee, coached by Jason Kidd, finished third in the Central Division with a 41-41 record and was nine games behind Chicago. Milwaukee is making their second playoff appearance in three seasons. The Bucks have not advanced past the first round since advancing to the Conference Finals in 2001. Milwaukee had the worst record in the league last season winning only 15 games. It is a testament to Kidd’s coaching ability that the Bucks were able to make the playoffs so soon. The Bucks are the youngest team by average age of the 16 playoff teams. Milwaukee is 46-38-1 ATS and the total is 39-46 this season. Milwaukee was a 2.5 point underdog against Chicago in game #3 and the total was 187.5.
Chicago, coached by Tom Thibodeau, finished second in the Central Division 3 games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers. Chicago finished a game ahead of the Toronto Raptors for the #3 seed. The Bulls played only 22 games all season with their opening night starting line-up intact. Chicago made the playoffs for the 10th time in the last 11 season, but they have only advanced past the second round once in those appearances. The Bulls are 42-43 ATS and the total is 43-41-1 this season.
Chicago is outscoring teams 101-98. The Bulls are #9 in points allowed this season. Chicago is shooting 44.2% from the field and 35.3% from 3 point range. The Bulls are #3 in free throw shooting at 78.3% from the line. Opponents are shooting 43.5% from the field and 33.5% from 3 point range. The Bulls are #4 or better in both categories. Chicago averages 45.7 rebounds per game and opponents average 43.4 per game. The Bulls are #3 in rebounding. Chicago averages 21.7 assists, 13.2 turnovers, 6.3 steals and 5.8 blocks per game.
Jimmy Butler averages 20.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. Pau Gasol averages 18.5 points, 11.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.9 blocks per game. Derrick Rose averages 18.2 points, 3.1 rebounds and 5 assists per game. Aaron Brooks averages 11.6 points, 2 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. Taj Gibson averages 10.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.2 blocks per game. Nikola Mirotic averages 10 points, 5 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game. He is out for the series with a strained quadricep suffered in game two Joakim Noah averages 7.4 points, 9.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.1 blocks per game. Mike Dunleavey, Tony Snell and Kirk Hinrich will also get minutes in the rotation. Hinrich is probable with a knee injury after missing the first two games of the series.
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Milwaukee is outscoring teams 97.8-97.4 this season. The Bucks are #8 in points allowed and #22 in scoring. Milwaukee is shooting 45.9% from the field and 36.3% from 3 point range. The Bucks are #7 in both categories. Milwaukee makes 75.7% from the free throw line. Opponents are shooting 43.7% from the field and 33.2% from 3 point range. The Bucks are #8 or better in both categories. Milwaukee averages 42.1 rebounds per game and opponents average 42.9. The Bucks are #24 in rebounds allowed. Milwaukee averages 23.6 assists, 16 turnovers, 9.6 steals and 4.9 blocks per game.
After losing last year’s #2 pick Jabari Parker to a knee injury in December, Milwaukee making the playoffs is even more remarkable. A mid-season trade with the Philadelphia 76ers to acquire Michael Carter-Williams turned the team around. Carter-Williams averages 14.1 points, 4 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 2 steals per game. Khris Middleton averages 13.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.5 blocks per game. Giannis Antetokounmpo, nicknamed the “Greek Freak” averages 12.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.1 blocks per game. Parker averaged 12.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Ersan Ilyasova averages 11.5 points, and 4.8 rebounds. O.J. Mayo averages 11.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. Damien Inglis is out for the season with a broken foot.
Chicago is 5-0 ATS after allowing 100 points, after a straight up win, overall and against Eastern Conference teams, 4-0 against teams with losing records, after a cover, against Central Division teams, and after scoring 100 points or more, 4-1 in road games, and on one day rest, and 5-13 in Saturday games. The Bulls are 8-1 ATS in the last 9 games in this series and were favored in each of those contests. Chicago is 11-3 ATS recently in Milwaukee.
Milwaukee is 3-7 ATS against teams with winning road records, 6-18-2 in first round games, 2-7 against teams with winning records, 3-12-1 after scoring 100 points or more, 0-4 after a straight up loss, after allowing 100 points or more, in Saturday games, overall and against Eastern Conference teams. The home team is 5-1 ATS in this series recently. The under is 5-2 in the series recently.
In the four regular season games between these teams neither team scored over 100 points. Yet, two of the first three games in this series have been high scoring. Obviously, a double overtime game will skew the numbers a little. I think Chicago wraps up this series with a win Saturday but I think it will be low-scoring similar to game two.