It’s not often that the road team wins the first four games of a playoff series, but that’s where we are in the Eastern Conference first-round matchup between the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics.
Boston will be back on its home floor today as it goes for its third straight victory and a chance to put a stranglehold on the series (8:30 p.m. ET Wednesday on TNT).
Boston played better on both ends of the floor in the two Chicago games than it did on its home floor. It did also affect matters that Bulls starting point guard Rajon Rondo broke his thumb in Game 2 and did not participate in his squad’s two home contests.
Any sane person should expect the Celtics to ride their momentum (along with superior roster and coaching) to a Game 5 win. However, the Bulls have pulled out random wins all year.
Let’s consider some important questions that will impact Chicago’s attempt at an upset. Then we will give some advice on how you should bet with our recommended American sportsbooks for this contest, including betting predictions and picks.
Can Any Bull Pull a Gerald Green?
A singular performance by one unheralded player can often swing a game. The Celtics got 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting from Gerald Green in the first half of Game 4, leading Boston to a big cushion that ended up being very helpful in the second half.
The question now is whether any Bulls player has a similar explosion in him. You may say Isaiah Canaan already had such a performance in Game 4, but it was actually just 13 points on 4-of-10 shooting in 34 minutes of play to go with two rebounds, three assists and two steals.
I’m thinking more along the lines of a 17-point, eight-rebound performance from Bobby Portis in 25 minutes, or Paul Zipser draining five three-pointers in seven attempts off the bench.
Chicago relies far too much on Jimmy Butler to be its workhorse on both ends of the floor, especially with Rajon Rondo injured. If anyone can ease his burden on one or both ends, he can remain fresher for the end of the game and be the crunch-time assassin he is used to being.
Will the Bulls’ Three-Point Shooting of the Late Regular Season Return at Some Point?
Chicago has made an average of just 7.3 three-pointers against the Celtics in this series, shooting just 30.2 percent from downtown. However, they made 10.8 per game over the final month of the season on 39.8 percent shooting.
What changed? The absence of Rondo’s playmaking for the last two games hasn’t helped manufacture open looks, but the Celtics have also covered the three-point arc well and Chicago has just been downright cold.
Chicago cannot continue to get killed in the three-point game and expect to win, so the Bulls’ shooters must step up.
Can the Celtics Stay Close in the Rebounding Matchup?
The Bulls’ identity as a team has a lot to do with pounding the offensive glass and dominating the rebounding statistic as a whole. Meanwhile, the Celtics were statistically the fourth-worst defensive rebounding team in the league during the regular season.
On the whole, Chicago is outrebounding the Celtics by more than 10 boards per contest in this series. Considering the Bulls’ lack of offensive options and mediocre defensive personnel, you have to figure their biggest hope for victory is to slaughter Boston on the boards.
If the Celtics can keep their rebounding disadvantage minimal (I’m thinking less than an eight-rebounds), they should be in good shape.
Our Preview’s Chicago Bulls vs Boston Celtics Game 5 Predictions & Betting Picks
It does seem like the Rajon Rondo injury took the wind out of the Bulls’ sails, and that lack of motivation should definitely carry over on the road for them.
However, I do see Jimmy Butler (the best player in the series, by the way) making sure his squad isn’t completely dominated, especially after two straight losses on his home floor.
- The Celtics are 7.5-point favorites. This is similar to the margin of victory I expect for Boston, but I could see the home team taking its foot off the gas for part of the game and letting the inferior team make it reasonably close. Pick Chicago +7.5pts @ -110 with Bovada or 5Dimes sportsbooks.
- The listed over-under for this game is 202.5 to 203 total points, depending on the betting firm. Both Celtic wins have gone under this number (the Bulls usually lose when they can’t score well), and my prediction is that there will be more of the same. The best option at the odds is to bet the under 203pts @ -115 with Bovada.