Cavs vs Bulls Game 5 Betting Preview

lebron-game-winner-bullsThe Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Chicago Bulls series has definitely been the most entertaining of the 2015 NBA Playoffs. First, Derrick Rose capped off his team’s Game 3 victory with a winning bank-shot three-pointer. Then, with 1.5 seconds remaining, LeBron James hit a game-winner for Cleveland to even the series at 2-2. Given all of this drama, what should we expect for Game 5, as action heads back to Cleveland? We’ll discuss this, but first, take a look at the Game 5 betting line:

Game Time: Tuesday (May 12th) at 7:00pm ET Betting Line:
Cleveland -5.5 (-110)     Over 191 (-110)
Chicago (-110)               Under (-110)

Injuries will play a Huge Role

Think the Kevin Love injury was the worst of it for either team in this series? Not even close, with Kyrie Irving playing some of his worst basketball of the year with a sore foot and knee tendinitis. LeBron has a twisted ankle and isn’t 100% either. On the Bulls’ side, All-Star center Pau Gasol has now missed one and a half games with a strained hamstring, and his availability for Game 5 will be a game-time decision.

So the -5.5 line for Cleveland could easily be higher or lower depending upon how the injuries play out in tonight’s game. James claims that his swollen ankle isn’t too severe, despite the treatment that he’s been getting.

Irving doesn’t sound like he’s going to be much healthier for Game 5 than he’s been for most of the series. “It’s just about finding ways to be more effective, especially being out there,” the Cavs point guard said. “I still can shoot. You still have to respect me out there. It’s not like they can just leave me or anything like that. But I just try to use myself as a decoy and make plays as best I can.”

derrick-rose-knee-injury-again-1Who’s going to shoot Well Tonight?

Besides injuries, both teams have suffered from very poor shooting. Call it good defense, or call it gimpy players, but both teams have taken turns being inconsistent. James and Irving combined for 12-of-40 shooting and 37 points last game, while the Bulls’ two offensive stars, Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler, combined for a more-respectable 19-of-44 and 50 points.

But Rose and Butler have also been guilty of two off nights during this series. That said, Game 5 could really come down to which All-Star pairing shoots the ball better from the field.

Can the Bulls Front Court find Consistency?

When Gasol is healthy, Chicago has the deepest front court in the league. However, down one man last game, the Bulls bigs just didn’t produce. Joakim Noah was actually the best shooter among the group with a 4-for-12 performance (8PTS), while Taj Gibson (2-of-7, 6PTS), Mike Dunleavy (1-of-7, 4PTS) and Nikola Mirotic (1-of-9, 4PTS) will all be hoping for much better days from the field.

This could certainly happen if Gasol plays tonight, as he’s been excellent at knocking down mid-range jumpers and spreading the floor for guys like Gibson and Noah to score inside. But if Gasol doesn’t play, then it allows Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov to stay in the paint against Gibson and Noah.

Final Score Prediction: Cleveland 93 – Chicago 90

Cavs vs. Bulls Game 3 Betting: Here’s what you need to know

cavs-vs-bulls-game-3After being handled at home, the Cleveland Cavaliers came roaring back behind LeBron James’ 33 points, winning Game 2 by a score of 106-91. This evens the series and will make Game 3 a lot more interesting as action heads back to Chicago. So who’s got the advantage heading into the next contest of the Bulls vs Cavs series? We’ll discuss that, but first, take a look at the Game 3 betting line:

Game Time: May 8th (Friday) at 8:00pm ET; shown on ESPN Betting LIne:
Chicago -2 (-110)       196 (-110)
Cleveland (-110)        196 (-110)

It’s interesting to see that Chicago is now favored on the Game 3 betting line, given that they got down by 20 points in the first quarter of Game 2 and never recovered. But then again, it was the Bulls jumping out to a 31-15 first-quarter lead against the Cavs, before closing the game out in the final quarter. Plus, with action shifting back to the United Center, the Bulls will definitely get a boost. As for how much of a boost, this remains to be seen.

Assuming you’re interested in betting on Game 3 of the Cavs vs Bulls series, make sure to keep the following points in mind.

LeBron James is playing with Renewed Fire

After a pretty bad Game 1, where he played terrible down the stretch, King James came back with renewed focus in the second contest. He said that he needed to be more aggressive, and this is exactly what happened as James continued taking the ball to the basket again and again. We haven’t seen LeBron hit many outside shots lately, and he made just 13-of-29 shots in his 33-point effort last time out. But James’ aggression kept the Bulls on their heels, which allowed him to dish out a very LeBron-like 8 assists, compared to only 2 turnovers.

mirotic-game-3Chicago still can’t sort out their Frontcourt Rotation

Understanding Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau’s frontcourt rotation has become nearly impossible. Obviously Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah deserve their minutes, but where is Nikola Mirotic!? He’s become a dangerous scoring weapon who can stretch the floor when Chicago needs offense – something Gibson and especially Noah can’t do. Yet Mirotic continues to only play the last couple minutes of the first half, and garbage time when allotted. Maybe it’s just Thibodeau’s old-school, rookies-don’t-play style of coaching…?

Thibodeau Firing Rumors persist

It’s kind of hard to come out with fire against LeBron and his equally talented sidekick Kyrie Irving when rumors are swirling about your head coach being fired/mutually parting ways. Thibodeau and the front office have clashed over many things, especially his insistence on playing the starters for extended minutes. This has obviously worn on Noah while it puts Derrick Rose’s knees at risk more. But it doesn’t seem like Thibodeau is going to change his philosophy any time soon.

mike-miller-cavsCleveland’s Bench is Largely Horrendous

There’s little leeway for the starters to mess up, given what the Cavs have coming off their bench. Guys like James Jones and Matthew Dellavedova can play, but they shouldn’t be your sixth and seventh men. The aging enforcer Kendrick Perkins is the only big man off the bench, while Mike Miller doesn’t look like he could play in a wheelchair league right now, posting four rebounds, 0 points and giving up more buckets in 13 minutes.

As Rose and Butler go, the Bulls go

Everybody makes a big deal about Chicago’s front-court depth, but it is Rose and Jimmy Butler’s shooting which decides how this team fares. Both were a combined 11-34 in Game 2, which can’t happen against the Cavs. Rose and Butler also went 10-for-41 against the Bucks in Game 6 of their first-round series, resulting in another loss. Both players need to at least shoot above 40% for the Bulls to have any chance of winning.

Game 3 Prediction: Cleveland 99 – Chicago 97

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Chicago Bulls Playoffs Betting

cavs-vs-bulls-playoffsThere’s a lot of basketball left to be played in the 2015 NBA Playoffs, but it already feels like a mini-championship is happening in the semifinals, with the Cleveland Cavaliers taking on the Chicago Bulls.

The big story going into this series will be how the Cavs suddenly look vulnerable after losing Kevin Love for the postseason due to a shoulder injury. Additionally, J.R. Smith will miss the first two games of the series with a suspension incurred from the Celtics series. This now gives Chicago a better chance to win against Cleveland, after losing three out of four regular season games to their bitter in-division rivals.

But exactly how good of a chance does the Bulls have of finally getting past their tormentor, LeBron James, in the East? Let’s look at both teams’ advantages and disadvantages, before coming to a consensus on who can win this thing.

How Chicago can win

There’s no better way to go into a new playoff series than by capping your last one off with a 54-point demolishing. Chicago’s 120-66 road victory over the Milwaukee Bucks showed just how dominant they can be ‘when on.’

joakim-noahThis was a team effort that showcased the tremendous depth of the Bulls, which is exactly why they can beat Cleveland. There’s no deeper frontcourt in the league since they boast Joakim Noah at center, along with Pau Gasol (PF/C), Taj Gibson and Nikola Mirotic all logging power forward minutes. This front court is so good that Mirotic, who’s at times looked like the most talented out of this group, doesn’t get the minutes that he deserves.

Then you come to the back court, where Derrick Rose mans the point and All-Star Jimmy Butler handles the shooting guard duties. Previously thought to be lost for the year, Rose came back from another knee injury and has at times looked like his former league MVP self. As for Butler, he’s been the offensive leader of this team, averaging 26.6 PPG against the Bucks. Throw in veteran and dead-eye three-point shooter Mike Dunleavy at small forward, and you have one very complete team that could wear the Cavs out.

Why Chicago will lose

Despite a myriad of talent at multiple positions, Chicago is one of the more-inconsistent teams in the NBA. A lot of this stems from the fact that the Bulls rely so much on Butler and Rose to generate offense; so when they’re off, Chicago is off. This much was clear from the Bucks’ Game 5 victory in Chicago, where Rose and Butler shot a combined 10-for-41, losing to a team that they should have waxed.

The inevitable victory did finally come in Milwaukee, but the guards’ shooting struggles, combined with the Bulls’ inability to find a good minutes rotation for their big men, made this a longer series than it needed to be. If the same problems persist, expect Chicago to go down in 6 games to Cleveland.

How Cleveland can win

lebron-james-benchKyrie Irving seems to be emerging as a true superstar, as he showed in the Boston series by hitting big shot after shot. Irving made 48% from thee-point range against the Celtics while averaging 23.3 PPG. And let’s not forget that he’s joined by the best player in the game in James. LeBron averaged a ‘quiet’ 27 points in the first round, while playing in cruise control at certain points.

There are certainly some good role players on this squad too, with Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson both providing great minutes in the front court, and Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith doing damage at the shooting guard position.

Why Cleveland will lose

Depth will be the biggest dilemma for Cleveland, especially with Smith out for the first two games. Without Love on the floor, Mozgov and Thompson will play extended minutes while aged veterans Kendrick Perkins and Shawn Marion may even be called upon more. Reserve guards James Jones and Matthew Dellavedova will be on the floor too, which doesn’t exactly match the overall talent that Chicago puts out there.

Final Prediction: Cavs in 7 Games

Regardless of their bench depth, Cleveland will have a rested LeBron and Irving playing 40+ minutes a game, which is mainly what they need to win what will be a close series. Be sure to catch Game 1 of this series at Monday at 7:00pm EST, and don’t forget to do your Cavs vs Bulls betting at

Derrick Rose to miss Rest of 2015 Season – Where does this leave Him?

derrick-rose-knee-injury-againFour years ago, Derrick Rose was the NBA’s reigning MVP after averaging 25 points and 7.7 assists. Now, he’ll be undergoing his third major knee surgery since the 2012 campaign and will finish another season on the sidelines.

The Chicago Bulls got the bad news last night that Rose has a torn meniscus in his right knee – the same injury that he incurred in November 2013. The point guard could have just had the damaged part cut out, however, both he and the team have agreed that a full fix would be best.

This is obviously a giant blow to the Chicago Bulls organization, which applauded the months of rehab that Rose put in over the past two and a half seasons. However, they’re now left pondering yet another postseason trip without their star guard.

All throughout the 2014-15 season, there was talk of how Rose looked tentative. And it’s certainly understandable, given the major injuries that he’d incurred in previous seasons. He was still able to put up a respectable 18.5 PPG and 5.0 APG, however, his shooting percentage was just 40.7% (28.7% from three-point).

Rose was starting to shake off his poor shooting, though, before the All-Star break. In fact, he was averaging 22.6 points in the 14 games leading up to the break. But he really struggled to find a groove in the three games following the All-Star game, averaging just 10.7 PPG on 23.5% shooting. His final performance of this season was especially woeful as he played 33 minutes and made just 1-of-13 shots.

derrick-rose-knee-injury-again-1Rose doesn’t use Twitter much, but other prominent players sent out best wishes following the devastating news. Here’s a quick look at tweets from LeBon and Paul George:

LeBron – Man feel bad for D.Rose! Keep your head up homie and stay strong G!

Paul George – Damn man send one up for D Rose.. Hate this keeps coming back but like before it won’t keep you down!

It’s difficult to say where this leaves the Bulls’ chances of making any serious noise in the Eastern Conference. They were really playing well as of late after winning 6 of their last 7 games. They are currently the East’s third seed with a 36-21 record, but they have plenty of close competition such as Cleveland (36-22), Washington (33-24) and Milwaukee (31-25).

The team will now turn to Jimmy Butler (20.4 PPG) and Pau Gasol (18.4 PPG) to pick up some of the scoring slack in Rose’s absence. Point guard Aaron Brooks (10.6 PPG) will also play a very important role for the Bulls down the stretch.

Carmelo to Bulls? Rose would rather have Kevin Love

carmelo-anthony-knicksEverybody has their eye on Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love this summer. Anthony has chosen to opt out of the final year of his Knicks contract, meaning he can test the free agency waters. Love still has another year to go in Minnesota, but the Timberwolves are trying to trade him so they at least get something before he leaves through free agency next summer. Interestingly enough, these two stars are inadvertently crashing at one destination.

Anthony is very intrigued by the Chicago Bulls at this point, at least for appearances sake. New York Daily News’ Mitch Lawrence believes that opting out of a contract and making serious inquires about the Bulls could be smoke and mirrors to get the best deal possible in New York. Whether that proves to be the case or not remains to be seen. But by opting out of his final year with the Knicks, Melo has at least put the possibility out there that he could play in Chicago next year.

Not Every Bull is thrilled

One guy who’s been openly campaigning for Carmelo in the Windy City is the team’s center, Joakim Noah. He’s been calling the All-Star small forward in an effort to recruit him to Chicago. However, Anthony has yet to return any of these phone calls, possibly because he was still under contract up until this point.

derrick-rose-bullsIt’s obvious that Noah is doing his best to add another elite scorer to the Chicago lineup. However, if Melo doesn’t end up with the Bulls, Derrick Rose is one player who won’t be throwing in the towel. Here’s a look at what Lawrence wrote about Rose’s opinion regarding Melo:

Noah will be disappointed if it turns out that Anthony uses the Bulls merely to get Dolan to up the Knicks’ offer. But one of his teammates won’t be crushed. Derrick Rose hasn’t called Anthony once and isn’t expected to do any recruiting when the Bulls make their run at the Knicks’ top scorer in free agency.

According to sources close to Kevin Love, Rose’s preference is for the Bulls to work out a deal as soon as possible for Minnesota’s All-Star forward because he sees Love as more of a team player than Anthony. Chicago is in the mix with Golden State for Love, with Boston and Denver considered long shots. If it makes any difference to Melo, Rose has no plans to recruit Love, who is free next summer, either. But the Bulls already know whom he’d really prefer to play with in the future.

What would it take to get Love?

kevin-love-minnesotaThis is the first that we’ve heard of Kevin Love having any ties to the Chicago Bulls. So far, the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics have been pursuing him pretty hard through a trade, while several other teams have shown interest. Putting Love alongside Noah and Rose, who’s expected to finally be 100% next season, would be a pretty dangerous combination. But the Timberwolves certainly aren’t giving Love away without getting plenty in return.

So what would Chicago have to give up to get him? Any deal would begin with rising power forward Taj Gibson, who played well in the playoffs last year. The Bulls could also dangle Spanish power forward Nikola Mirotic, whom they have the NBA rights to. Mirotic has top-5 pick value, but the challenge would be convincing him to leave Real Madrid for the cold and foreign confines of Minnesota.

The Celtics and Warriors are also trying to put together enticing packages and land Love in a trade. Boston may not be willing to give up any immediate pieces as attractive as Gibson or Mirotic, but they do have a treasure trove of first-round draft picks, with nine coming in the next five years. GM Danny Ainge has reportedly been working out a scenario for using these picks to get Love. The Warriors have something that Minnesota might be interested in with Klay Thompson, David Lee and a first-round pick. However, Golden State has since had second thoughts about giving up Thompson.

One more team to watch in this frenzy is the Los Angeles Clippers, who Love would really like to play for. It’s hard to imagine who would be dealt in such an arrangement, but speculation has Blake Griffin and another player being swapped for Love and another T-Wolves member.

Of course, it’s also worth mentioning that none of these scenarios could happen, meaning Minnesota team president and head coach Flip Saunders keeps Love in Minnesota until the trade deadline. This would be awkward for both parties involved because the 6’10” power forward, who averaged 26.1 PPG and 12.5 RPG last season, definitely doesn’t want to be back in Minnesota. But on the other hand, Saunders certainly doesn’t want to get far below market value for a guy who’s quite possibly the NBA’s top power forward.

What’s next for the Chicago Bulls in 2015?

chicago-bulls-20152014 was an odd year for the Chicago Bulls, that’s for sure. They came into the season with championship expectations, but that took a hit when Derrick Rose suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee. They then seemed to be conceeding the season when they shipped Luol Deng to the Cavaliers in exchange for Andrew Bynum, three future draft picks and cap space.

Interestingly enough, the Bulls actually played better after trading their star small forward and rose up to grab the Eastern Conference’s fourth seed. It was looking good too because they were facing a postseason-inexperienced Wizards squad. Then came a 4-1 series beating that leaves the Bulls with a first-round playoff exit and plenty of questions to answer.

Many of these questions start with Derrick Rose. After a 2011 season where the point guard won the MVP award, he’s since had three injury-plagued seasons in a row. There’s good news lately in that he’s recovered enough to play two-on-two games in practice. However, the Bulls must decide how much stock they can put into the 25-year-old’s knees moving forward.

Head coach Tom Thibodeau also presents another puzzling scenario for the Bulls. He’s definitely a good coach, but even the best have a difficult time dealing with the lofty year-in, year-out expectations put on Chicago. And there have been plenty of rumors that he’s unhappy with the front office and wants out, or the Bulls’ management wants him gone because of the friction. But then again, this team would have a difficult time replacing such a respected coach.

chicago-bulls-boozerOne guy who may not present any questions at all is Carlos Boozer. Although he equally split minutes with Taj Gibson during the regular season, Boozer was often benched in favor of Gibson in the playoff series against Washington. And for good reason too since Gibson averaged 18.2 PPG on 56.1% shooting while Boozer averaged 9.6 PPG on 42.6% shooting. Even worse is how poorly Boozer performed outside of the numbers, continually conceding offensive rebounds and easy buckets during the 4-1 series drubbing. Set to make $16.8 million in 2015, it seems like the Bulls may amnesty him to take $16 million off their salary cap.

Doing so would put Chicago in line to land Carmelo Anthony, one of the prized recruits of this summer’s free agent crop. In fact, many rumors have Anthony seriously considering the Bulls since they have the framework in place to be a championship contender. This team has strong inside players like Joakim Noah and Gibson as well as perimeter shooters like Jimmy Butler and Kirk Heinrich. They just need a go-to star like Anthony to make them a serious contender again.

Of course, the possibility of Rose once again emerging to be this player isn’t totally crazy. But Chicago can’t simply rely on this vision to come true, especially with three straight seasons marred by injury. Signing Anthony takes chance out of the equation and pairs him with an exceptional center in Noah.

carmelo-anthony-1The one roadblock that’s been discussed is money because, even after amnestying Boozer, Chicago would only be able to offer a $16 million starting deal. On the other hand, he opted out of his final year in New York, which would’ve paid $23.3 million, so he could test the market. But based on what he’s been saying lately, money isn’t the issue.

‘I’m going to make money. I have money,” Anthony said. “I’m good if I want to retire right now….As far as the money, it don’t really matter to me. If I go somewhere else, I get paid. If I stay in New York, I get paid. As far as the money goes, it’s not my concern. My concern is to be able to compete on a high level, a championship level, coming in this last stretch of my career. I want to compete at that level.”

It’s pretty clear that Chicago will do what they can to remain as attractive as possible to Anthony. And if they can land him, they’ll no longer just be a middling East team with a very good center and solid role players.