Chicago Bulls at Miami Heat
AmericanAirlines Arena – Miami, Florida
Thursday, April 9, 2015, 8:05 pm Eastern, TV: TNT
Opening Line: Miami -1
Current Line: Chicago -1 1/2
Opening Total: 191 1/2
Current Total: 192
Opening Money Line: Heat -125 / Bulls +105
Current Money Line: Bulls -125 / Heat +105
While the Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers have clinched the top two seeds in the Eastern Conference playoffs, the other six seeds are still in flux with only a handful of games left in the regular season. Eight teams are competing for seeding or just to get in to the tournament. Two of those teams meet Thursday night as the 46-32 Chicago Bulls travel to the 35-43 Miami Heat.
Chicago is tied for third in the East with the Toronto Raptors. However, the Raptors would get the tiebreaker by virtue of winning the Atlantic Division. Chicago lost last night at the Orlando Magic 105-103 and Cleveland won their game which enabled the Cavaliers to clinch the Central Division title and the #2 seed.
Miami is currently on the outside looking in for the playoffs. Miami is tied for ninth with the Indiana Pacers, both teams a game behind the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets for the last two spots. Any of the four teams could move up as high as the six seed currently occupied by the 38-40 Milwaukee Bucks. The Charlotte Hornets are still alive too but they need a lot of help. The Heat put the Hornets on life support last night with a 105-100 home victory over Charlotte Tuesday.
The series is tied 1-1 this season between Chicago and Miami, with each winning on the road. The Heat won in Chicago 96-84 January 25, after the Bulls won 93-75 December 14 in Miami. The losing team shot 35% from the field in each of those contests.
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Chicago is coached by Tom Thibodeau. Chicago has lost 13 of their last 17 road games, including 3 straight. The Bulls have been inconsistent, mainly due to injuries. Chicago’s starting line-up on opening night has played less than 20 games together this season. Point guard Derrick Rose returned to the line-up last night in Orlando after missing the previous 20 games with a torn meniscus in his right knee. He played only 19 minutes and is questionable tonight due to rest. Chicago is 36-42 ATS and the total is 39-38-1 this season. The Bulls were 7.5 point favorites against Orlando and the total was 191.
Miami is coached by Eric Spoelstra. The Heat have gone 2-7 in their last 9 games to fall out of the playoffs when it looked like they had a good grip on the #7 seed. Everyone was drooling over the possibility of a potential playoff series between LeBron James and the Cavs against Dwyane Wade and the Heat, James’ former team. It still might happen but Miami has work to do just to get in. The win over Charlotte Tuesday snapped a 4 game losing streak for Miami. The Heat are 33-41-4 ATS and the total is 34-44 this season. Miami was a 6.5 point favorite against Charlotte and the total was 190.5.
Chicago is outscoring teams 101-98 this season. The Bulls are shooting 44.2% from the field and 35.5% from 3 point range. Chicago is #3 in the league in free throw shooting at 78.4% from the line. Opponents are shooting 43.8% from the field and 33.8% from 3 point range. The Bulls are #5 in both categories. Chicago averages 45.6 rebounds per game and opponents average 43.4 per game. The Bulls are #3 in rebounding. Chicago averages 21.8 assists, 13.2 turnovers, 6.1 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. 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. 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 and forward Doug McDermott are both out Thursday because of rest.
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Miami is being outscored 97-95 this season. The Heat are #28 in scoring but #7 in points allowed. Miami is shooting 45.7% from the field and 33.5% from 3 point range. Miami makes 74.5% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 45.6% from the field and 35.8% from 3 point range. Miami averages 38.8 rebounds and opponents average 40.7 per game. The Heat are last in rebounding but #2 in rebounds allowed. Miami averages 19.9 assists, 14 turnovers, 8 steals and 4.4 blocks per game.
While Chicago has been hit by injuries, it is nothing compared to Miami’s injury woes. Michael Beasley (knee), Mario Chalmers (illness), Chris Anderson (foot), Hassan Whiteside (hand), Luol Deng (knee) are all listed as probable Thursday night. Shabazz Napier (hernia), Chris Bosh (blood clot), and Josh McRoberts (knee) are all out for the season.
Dwyane Wade averages 21.5 points, 3.5 rebounds 4.8 assists and 1.2 steals a game. Bosh averaged 21.1 points, 7 rebounds and 2.2 assists before the blood clot spread to his lungs. Goran Dragic averages 16.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Deng averages 14.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. Whiteside averages 11.2 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. Chalmers averages 10.4 points, 2.4 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game.
Chicago is 4-0 ATS after the opponents scored 100 points or more in the previous game, 4-1 after allowing 100 points or more, 12-5 after failing to cover, 7-17 against teams with losing records, 3-9 in road games, 2-9 against Southeast teams, and 0-5 in back-to-backs. The last 4 games in this series have gone under the total.
Miami is 5-2 ATS at home, 15-34-2 after a straight up win, 6-19-1 after scoring 100 points or more, 1-4 against Central teams, 1-5 in Thursday games, 0-5 overall, 0-4 after failing to cover, against teams with winning records, against Eastern Conference teams and on one day rest.
Neither of teams are playing very well right now. Chicago has lost 3 of their last 4 games, while Miami has lost 4 of the last 5. Still Chicago is healthier and I like the Bulls to win on the road.