Cavs vs. Bulls Game 6 Betting: Can Cleveland close it out?

lebron-game-5-bullsFollowing two buzzer-beater games, the Cleveland Cavaliers pulled out a 106-101 win over the Chicago Bulls in Game 5 of this playoff series. The Cavs now lead the series 3-2 heading into tonight’s Game 6 contest. So who’s got the upper hand as we visit the United Center in Chicago? Check out our analysis below, but first, here’s a look at the Game 6 betting line.

Game Time: Thursday (May 14th) at 8:00pm ET on ESPN Betting Line:
Chicago -2.5 (-110)    Over 192.5 (-110)
Cleveland (-110)        Under 192.5 (-110)

As you can see from our line, this is expected to be yet another close contest. And why not, since the last three have been decided by a total of 10 points. The only question is, who will come out on top of what’s expected to be another nail-biter. That said, let’s discuss some of the big factors to consider before betting on Game 6 between Cleveland and Chicago.

Paul Gasol will play Tonight

The Bulls took control of the series early on with a Game 3 victory, giving them a 2-1 series lead. However, that was with Gasol….or at least with the All-Star center playing over half the game before exiting with a hamstring injury. He’s since missed the last two contests, and Chicago has lost both of them. Gasol vows to play tonight, but the main concern is what level he’ll be playing at. ”I’ll be out there,” said Gasol. ”[What percentage?] I don’t know, but whatever percentage I will be, that’s what I’ll give.” Will a semi-healthy Gasol be enough to put the Bulls over the hump on their home floor?

LeBron could be LeBron Again

The story of last game was definitely the dominance of LeBron James, who scored 38 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, dished out six assists and blocked three shots – all while committing no turnovers. Some of this came with Jimmy Butler on the bench in foul trouble, however, LeBron also scored at will when the “KingSlayer” was on the court too. Can James be this efficient again tonight? Assuming the answer is yes, then it’s very possible that Cleveland can close out the series.

pau-gasol-bulls-playoffsBulls Offense is struggling

As mentioned before, Gasol hasn’t played the past two games, and Chicago’s offense has sorely missed him. But even with Gasol, the Bulls offense devolves into everybody standing around and waiting for a perimeter player to make something happen. Cleveland forced three shot-clock violations, but these turnovers were just as much a product of Chicago’s sometimes-anemic offense. Can coach Tom Thibodeau get the X’s and O’s just right and break his team out of this funk?

Kyrie Irving may not be as Beat Up as thought

Irving was looking worse for the wear after Game 4, with a sore foot and knee tendinitis. These injuries seemed like they would force LeBron to carry even more of the load in Game 5. However, Irving actually played really well and shot 9-for-16 with 25 points in the contest. Assuming Irving can play healthy over the next 1-2 games, and return to the form that he had against the Boston Celtics, then this team has nothing to worry about.

An “On” Night for Butler and Rose could win it

Watching Chicago during these playoffs, it seems that the key to their success is Butler and Derrick Rose syncing up their good-shooting nights. Last time out was not one of these nights, with Rose making only 7-of-24 attempts, and Butler shooting a respectable 9-of-18. If these two can get on fire at the same time, then we could certainly be heading back to Cleveland for a seventh game.

Final Score Prediction: Chicago 97 – Cleveland 93

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

Don’t expect Cleveland Cavaliers to re-sign Luol Deng this Summer

luol-deng-clevelandFor once this year, the Cleveland Cavaliers are in an enviable position. After a season met with considerable disappointment, they grabbed the number-one overall pick for the second year in a row. Now, Cleveland has their choice between Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker, among several other talented potential top selections. That said, the need to sign versatile forward Luol Deng doesn’t seem very high in The Forest City.

According to Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal, the Cavaliers haven’t made much of an effort to bring Deng back. Here’s one excerpt from Lloyd’s article:

Yahoo Sports reported Thursday that the Cavs could increase their chances of retaining free agent Luol Deng should they hire Griffin to be their coach, but the Cavs tried trading Deng at the trade deadline three months ago and haven’t expressed much interest in bringing him back.

Why wouldn’t Cleveland want Deng?

luol-deng-cleveland-1Deng is a two-time NBA All-Star who’s averaged 16.0 PPG, 6.3 RPG and 1.0 SPG over his 9-year career. More importantly, Cleveland was a better team with Deng on the squad as they went 20-20 after the trade that brought him over from the Chicago Bulls. This is quite an accomplishment for a team that finished the season just 33-49, missing the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference.

So why not do whatever it takes to bring a good all-around player like this back? For starters, Deng is going to command a lot of money in this summer’s free agent market. And while Cleveland has cap space to cover Deng’s salary demands, they’re more likely to hold out for another star.

After all, the former Bull has never been the type of player who carries a team and consistently takes the big shot. As we covered before, Deng can certainly make a team far better, as he did in Cleveland. But the Cavs already have very good players in Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters. What they’re looking for is another dynamic star to pair with Kyrie Irving.

Given that landing LeBron James is still a possibility, Cleveland may let Deng go without a fight and focus on developing their latest top pick and last year’s first selection, Anthony Bennett. Sure, this doesn’t exactly equate to a banner 2015 season, where Cleveland Cavaliers betting will be a hot trend. But it sets them up for years of future success, especially if they can sign Irving to an extension.

Deng won’t miss Cleveland

adrian-griffin-cavs-coaching-candidateIf the Cavs continue down the road of not paying Deng much attention, don’t expect the small forward to pine for fishing trips and long walks on Lake Erie. He went from a very competitive environment in Chicago last year to a more dysfunctional one in Cleveland.

Much of this stemmed from the lack of control that coach Mike Brown had over the team. Deng was rumored to have told a friend that players were taking their uniform tops off at halftime and threatening not to play, getting thrown out of practice, mouthing off to Brown, and generally not being held accountable. One perfect instance of the latter was when Waiters got kicked out of practice one day, then he got to play his normal amount of minutes the following game.

Taking all of this into account, Cleveland’s current search for a coach will include finding somebody who can control and demand respect from the team’s young talent. As Lloyd reported in the aforementioned article, Adrian Griffin (pictured above) was the first candidate interviewed. Griffin, who played nine years in the NBA, has spent time as an assistant for both Scott Skiles (Milwaukee Bucks) and Tom Thibodeau (Chicago Bulls).

Both Skiles and Thibodeau strongly endorse Griffin as a coach, and it’s possible that hiring him could interest Deng in coming back – provided this door isn’t already closed. Other candidates who’ll get interviews with the Cavs include Los Angeles Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue and ex-Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins.