Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game #5: Milwaukee Bucks at Chicago Bulls

2015 NBA Playoffs
Eastern Conference – First Round

#6 Milwaukee Bucks at #3 Chicago Bulls
Bulls Lead Best of Seven Series 3-1
Game #5 United Center – Chicago, Illinois
Monday, April 27, 2015, 8:05 pm Eastern, TV: TNT
Opening Line: Chicago -8 1/2
Current Line: Chicago -8 1/2
Opening Total: 188
Current Total: 187 1/2
Opening Money Line: Bulls -400 / Bucks +325
Current Money Line: Bulls -420 / Bucks +335

Chicago is up 3-1 on Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals and looks to end the series Monday night at home.
Chicago is up 3-1 on Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals and looks to end the series Monday night at home.

After winning the first three games of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, the Chicago Bulls were unable to finish off the Milwaukee Bucks in game four Saturday in Milwaukee. Chicago can now win the series at home Monday night. It would behoove them to end this series as quickly as possible because LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers await in the next round after Cleveland swept Boston yesterday.

Milwaukee will not go quietly though. Many thought a young team like the Bucks would simply roll over after losing the first three games. Chicago won game one 103-91 and game two 91-82, both at home. The Bulls escaped with a 113-106 win in double overtime in game three in Milwaukee.

Game four was back and forth. Neither team had much of a lead. Chicago led by 4 at the end of the first quarter, but the teams were tied at halftime. Milwaukee would take a narrow two point lead into the fourth quarter. The Bucks led by as many as 8 on two occasions including 87-79 with 4:39 left. Chicago would tie the game at 90 with 38 seconds left when Pau Gasol was fouled on a layup and converted the free throw for the three point play. Milwaukee’s Jerryd Bayless missed a layup with 22 seconds left. Chicago got the rebound. The Bulls had a chance to win the game but Derrick Rose made a bad pass that led to a Milwaukee steal with just over a second left to go. It was the last of 28 turnovers for Chicago. Bayless drove by Rose and converted the game winning lay-up to give Milwaukee the 92-90 win. Chicago lost despite shooting just under 50% from the field, but 28 turnovers will kill your chances of winning most games.

Milwaukee guard O.J. Mayo had 18 points, 4 assists, 4 steals and 3 rebounds. Jared Dudley had 13 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds and 2 steals per game. Bayless, Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo each scored 10 points for the Bucks.

Chicago guard Jimmy Butler had 33 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists. Gasol had 16 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks. Rose had 14 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds. He also had 8 turnovers though. Mike Dunleavy had 10 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists. The Milwaukee bench outscored the Chicago bench 47-13 in game four.

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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 47-38-1 ATS and the total is 39-47 this season. Milwaukee was a 4 point underdog against Chicago in game #4 and the total was 190.

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 42-44 ATS and the total is 43-42-1 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 probable with a strained quad. 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.

Milwaukee is 3-7 ATS against teams with winning records, 4-10 after a cover, 7-18-2 in first round games, 1-4 in Monday games, overall, against Eastern Conference teams, and against teams with winning home records. The under is 6-2 in this series recently.

Chicago is 5-1 ATS after failing to cover, overall, and against Eastern Conference teams, 4-1 in Monday games, against teams with losing records, and 4-1 against Central teams, 8-2 against teams with losing road records, 7-2 at home and 7-3 on one day rest. The Bulls are 8-2 ATS in the last 10 games in this series and were favored in each of those contests. The home team is 6-1 ATS in this series recently. The Bulls have covered the last 5 games at home against the Bucks.

Chicago needs to finish off this series. They won’t have 28 turnovers in game five. I think the Bulls in comfortably in alow scoring game.

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