Bulls in tough at home vs Cavaliers
Things don’t come easy for the Chicago Bulls these days. Chicago needs every win they can get to chase down the Toronto Raptors for the final playoff spot in the East, but on Thursday they have to get that win versus the NBA-best Cleveland Cavaliers.
Chicago heads into the matchup sitting in ninth place in the East, but they’re only one game behind eighth-place Toronto. Chicago didn’t do themselves any favors on Tuesday night when they could have tied Toronto but didn’t deliver in a 79-74 loss to Milwaukee. Making matters even worse for bettors is that the Bulls were a 5-point favorite at Bovada in the loss. It looked like Chicago was going to get blown out, trailing the Bucks 60-48 in the third quarter, but they went on a solid run and actually took a 65-63 lead midway through the fourth quarter. That was as close as they would get, though, after fading down the stretch, as former Bull John Salmons hit some late shots for Milwaukee while pouring in a game-high 26 points. Luol Deng led Chicago with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Derrick Rose had a mediocre night with 12 points and 11 assists on 5-of-12 shooting and six turnovers. The 74 points Chicago scored tied a season low, and they’ll have to do much better than that if they’re going to upset Cleveland.
The Cavaliers did the Bulls a favor on Tuesday by slamming the Raptors 113-101 as a 5.5-point favorite. They also helped out the Bulls by inadvertently knocking off Raptors star Chris Bosh. Antawn Jamison caught Bosh with an unintentional elbow to the face which left Bosh with a broken bone that could sideline him during their run to the postseason. Away from the Bosh incident, Jamison led Cleveland with 20 points and LeBron James added 19 points and 13 assists. James played 35 minutes in the win, below his season average, so his request for a little rest heading into the playoffs could have been answered. Seeing LeBron a little more on the bench would be a blessing for Chicago. The Bulls and Cavaliers have already squared off three times this season with the Cavs leading the series 2-1 SU - but they’re only 1-2 ATS. They last met on March 19 in Chicago when the Cavs won 92-85 as a 10-point favorite. James led the way with 29 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists, while Taj Gibson led a shorthanded Chicago squad with 20 points and 13 boards. Chicago was severely shorthanded in the loss with Rose, Deng, and Joakim Noah all sidelined. Things could be different this time around with all three back and healthy.