The Brooklyn Nets have had a fine first season in their new home town and fancy new digs, making the playoffs for the first time in six seasons.
Brooklyn now looks to build on that success when it meets up with the Chicago Bulls for a first-round Eastern Conference playoff series starting with Game 1 Saturday night at the Barclays Center (8 pm ET, ESPN).
As of Thursday most NBA betting outlets (including Sportsbook) were listing Brooklyn at -4.5 points for Game 1 over Chicago.
Also, Sportsbook was chalking the Nets at -145 to win this first-round series, with the Bulls getting +125 as the underdogs.
Three seasons after going 12-70 the Nets (49-33 SU, 39-40 ATS), with a roster comprised mostly of veterans from elsewhere, put things together to win 49 games and earn the four seed in the Eastern Conference.
Brooklyn got off to an 11-4 start, withstood a cold spell, later went on a 12-2 run and finished the regular season by winning six of its last seven games to secure home-court advantage for this first-round match-up.
Chicago (45-37 SU, 36-46 ATS), meanwhile, never quite got rolling this season without former MVP Derrick Rose, who's missed the entire season trying to recover from that nasty knee injury suffered in the first round of last year's playoffs.
The Bulls never won more than three games in a row this season, but also never lost more than three straight. They had a 12-4 January, but went 17-20 after that. When all was said and done Chicago had settled for the five seed in the East.
The Bulls have been hoping Rose might return to the court sometime this Spring, but while he's been practicing with the team recently, that has not yet happened. Officially, Rose is listed as “questionable” for Saturday night's game.
Chicago took the season series from Brooklyn three games to one. Most recently, a short-handed Bulls team rallied from an early 16-point deficit to beat the Nets 93-92 at the BC two weeks ago.
Three of the four games these teams played this season stayed UNDER on the totals.
As of earlier this week on the NBA futures market Sportsbook was listing Chicago at 25/1, Brooklyn at 28/1 to win the Eastern Conference.
Also, the Bulls were getting 60/1 to win their first non-Jordan league title, while the Nets were getting that same 60/1 to win their first-ever NBA championship.