NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs First Round: #1 Boston Celtics vs #8 Chicago Bulls

2017 NBA Playoffs
Eastern Conference First Round
#1 Boston Celtics vs #8 Chicago Bulls
Best of Seven Series Format: 2-2-1-1-1
Series Price: Celtics -450 / Bulls (Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes Sportsbooks

Game #1 – Sunday, April 16, 2017, 5:30 pm Eastern, TV: TNT
TD Garden – Boston, Massachusetts
Opening Line: Boston -7 1/2
Current Line: Boston -6
Opening Total: 207 1/2
Current Total: 204 1/2
Opening Money Line: Celtics -350 / Bulls +270
Current Money Line: Celtics -270 / Bulls +230

The Celtics open up the playoffs at home against the Bulls Sunday.

The 53-29 Boston Celtics passed the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers for the best record in the Eastern Conference  by two games. The Celtics will take on the #8 seed Chicago Bulls who are 41-41. Boston won the Atlantic Division also by two games over the Toronto Raptors. Chicago was fourth in the Central Division and won a tiebreaker with the Miami Heat for the last spot in the East playoffs. The winner will face either the #4 Washington Wizards or #5 Atlanta Hawks in the second round.

The teams split the season series 2-2 with each team winning twice at home. Chicago won the season opener 105-99 October 27 and 104-103 February 16. Boston won at home 107-100 November 2 and 100-80 March 12. This is the fourth playoff meeting between the Celtics and Bulls and first since the first round in 2009. Boston is 4-0 all time in playoff series against Chicago.

Chicago is coached by Fred Hoiberg. The Bulls are 42-40 ATS and the total is 32-49-1 this season. Chicago won the last two games of the regular season to hold off the Heat, including a 112-73 thrashing of the Brooklyn Nets at home Wednesday night. Chicago returns to the playoffs after missing last year. They had made the playoffs in the ten of the previous eleven seasons before that, including seven straight seasons.

Boston is coached by Brad Stevens. The Celtics are 40-40-2 ATS and the total is 39-39-4 this season. Teh Celtics won the last three games of the regular season including a 112-94 win at home over the Milwaukee Bucks Wednesday night in the regular season finale. The Celtics are in the playoffs for the ninth time in the last ten seasons, including three straight seasons.

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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.

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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 probable after his sister was tragically killed in a car accident Saturday. Avery Bradley averages 16.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He is probable with a hand injury. 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.

Chicago is 5-0 ATS against teams with winning home records, 6-1 on three or more days rest, 5-1 against teams with winning records, 6-2 in road games, 10-4 overall, 5-2 after scoring 100 points or more, 7-3 in Sunday games and and 9-4 against Eastern Conference teams. The last four games in this series have gone under but the over is 19-7 in Boston between the teams.

Boston is 5-2 ATS against Central teams, 3-7 overall, 2-5 after a straight up win, 1-4 after a cover, 1-5 after a double digit win, and against teams with losing road records and 1-6 at home. The home team is 7-0 ATS in this series and the favorite is 7-1 recently. The Celtics have covered the last four games at home against the Bulls.

Boston has the best record in the East, and yet very few people would favor them over the Cavaliers in a seven game series even with home court. The Celtics feel a little disrespected and will use that as motivation. Some say this is a bad match-up for the Celtics against the Bulls, but I don’t see Chicago pulling off the upset. The Bulls are great on defense, but offensively challenged. The Celtics win the series in six games and start with a game one victory by pulling away late.

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