Game 5 NBA Picks: Bulls look to end series with Pacers at home

2011 NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs
First Round – Game 5
Indiana Pacers at Chicago Bulls, United Center, Chicago, IL
Tuesday, April 26, 2011, 8:00 pm Eastern, TV:  TNT
Opening Line: Bulls -11
Current Line: Bulls -9.5
Opening Total: 187.5
Current Total: 187.5
Money Line: Bulls -600 / Pacers +480

Bulls Pacers NBA Playoffs Game 5 Preview
Joakim Noah and the Bulls hope to outmuscle the Pacers and close out the series on Tuesday.

Maybe Danny Granger was right when he said the Chicago Bulls (65-21) go as Derrick Rose goes before his Indiana Pacers (38-48) tipped off their first-round playoff series on April 16.  Rose was not his usual aggressive self after spraining his ankle in the first quarter of an 89-84 loss in Game 4 on Saturday, especially late despite helping his team nearly rally all the way back from a double-digit deficit yet again.  The NBA MVP candidate has vowed to play through the pain in hopes of leading the Bulls (-9.5) to a clinching victory in Game 5 on Tuesday.

Chicago will no doubt need its leading scorer to close out the Pacers, who are 4-1 against the spread in the last five meetings despite trailing this series 3-1.  Rose made it to the free-throw line just four times in Game 4 after averaging over 16 attempts in the previous three games.  His point production has gone down in each of the games, and his shooting has also suffered since Indiana decided to defend him with a combination of rookie Paul George and veteran stopper Dahntay Jones.

The Pacers also got a big performance from 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert in Game 4, as the former Georgetown star had a series-high 16 points and 10 rebounds.  Hibbert has helped take some pressure off the starting backcourt of George and Darren Collison, who have combined to average 15 points in the last two games.  Collison sprained his ankle in Game 2 and has made 6 of 19 shots since then while George has concentrated more on the defensive end.

Granger remains the most consistent scorer in the series with 22 points per game, and his early statement has come to define this playoff matchup.  His Indiana teammates have made it increasingly difficult for Rose to drive the lane and draw fouls, taking the Bulls out of their offensive gameplan.  Rose did have a series-high 10 assists in Game 4 though and may need to become more of a playmaker here if they are going to avoid heading back to Indianapolis.

Chicago got a more balanced scoring effort in Game 4, with Joakim Noah (21 points and 14 rebounds), Carlos Boozer (15 and 13) and Luol Deng (16 and three) all contributing down the stretch during a 13-1 run that saw them pull within 85-84 with 15.3 seconds remaining.  However, their efforts were not enough to extend a 12-game winning streak for the Bulls, who have won six straight home games but are 1-5 ATS with all five failed covers coming as double-digit favorites.

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