2015 NBA Playoffs
Eastern Conference – First Round
#3 Chicago Bulls at #6 Milwaukee Bucks
Bulls Lead Best of Seven Series 2-0
Game #3 BMO Bradley Center – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Thursday, April 23, 2015, 8:05 pm Eastern, TV: NBA TV
Opening Line: Chicago -3
Current Line: Chicago -3
Opening Total: 188
Current Total: 186
Opening Money Line: Bulls -150 / Bucks +130
Current Money Line: Bulls -150 / Bucks +130
The Chicago Bulls won the first two games at home against the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. Now the series shifts north to Milwaukee for games three and four. The Bucks face a virtual must win Thursday as home to avoid an 0-3 series hole. No NBA team has ever come back from a 3-0 series deficit.
Chicago won game one 103-91 and game two Monday night 91-82. In game two, Chicago took a three point lead into the fourth quarter. Milwaukee led by 3 points early in the fourth, but then Chicago went on a 13-0 run to take control of the game. Neither team shot very well, as both were under 40%.
Chicago guard Jimmy Butler scored 31 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter. He also added 9 rebounds. Derrick Rose scored all 15 of his points in the second half and added 9 assists and 7 rebounds. Mike Dunleavy added 12 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists. Paul Gasol added 11 points, 16 rebounds 3 assists and 4 blocks. Joakim Noah had 19 rebounds and 5 assists.
Milwaukee guard Khris Middleton scored 22 points and added 6 rebounds. Michael Carter-Williams scored 12 points with 5 rebounds and 2 assists.
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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, and Kidd is a candidate for coach of the year. Milwaukee is 46-37-1 ATS and the total is 38-46 this season. Milwaukee was a 7.5 point underdog against Chicago in game #2 and the total was 190.5.
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 41-43 ATS and the total is 42-41-1 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 4-0 ATS after a straight up win, overall, and against Eastern Conference teams, 6-1 on two days rest, 4-1 in Thursday games and against teams with losing records. The Bulls are 7-1 ATS in the last 8 games against the Bucks and Chicago was favored in each of those contests. Chicago is 10-3 ATS in Milwaukee recently.
Milwaukee is 9-1 ATS in Thursday games, 7-18-2 in first round games, and 2-6 against teams with winning records. The home team has covered the last 5 games in this series. The under is 5-1 in this series recently.
Milwaukee only had 4 turnovers Monday night, and still lost. Chicago simply has too much talent and experience. Expect plenty of Bulls fans to make the 90 mile trip up north for this game which should negate Milwaukee’s home court advantage. I like the Bulls to win and take a commanding 3-0 series lead.