Miami Heat vs. Chicago Bulls
The Chicago Bulls host the Miami Heat for Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Bulls are 2-point favorites over the Heat with an over/under total set at 180.
The Chicago Bulls find themselves as an underdog for this series despite holding the top seed and home court advantage. Furthermore, the Bulls defeated the Heat in all three meetings during the regular season, but the consensus is that the Heat have peaked at the right time, and are potentially a totally different team at this stage of the game. The Bulls have been touted as one of the league’s premier defensive teams during the regular season, but do they really have the type of one-on-one defense necessary to contain LeBron James and Dwyane Wade? Luol Deng and Keith Bogans will certainly have their hands full against two of the league’s top isolation specialists. But there may be some comfort for Chicago knowing that Derrick Rose can own any of the opposing point guards Miami will throw at him. And let’s not forget the coaching edge either, as Tom Thibodeau morphed a deep team of mostly role players into the team with the best regular season record in the league while earning Coach of the Year honors.
The Miami Heat were criticized for over-celebrating their win over Boston, but the duo of superstars know that the journey is far from over. Chris Bosh simply hasn’t been consistent enough to label with the same tag as his more skilled brethren. While Bosh has certainly had his moments, I can’t help but harp on game three in Boston when he let nerves and pressure get the best of him. Will Bosh need a game to warm up to the United Center or can we expect him to produce immediately? If nothing else, the Heat should be able to rely on their defense, which often proved suffocating in their latest series against the Celtics. The Heat starters represent a stronger unit when matched up head to head with the Bulls, but we could see Chicago gain the edge during stretches of extended bench minutes.
The Heat and Bulls met twice in Chicago during the regular season, combining for an average of 186.5 PPG. The game in Miami on March 6th produced just 173 total points. The market said under when this line was published at 182, but I don’t think it’s out of reach for each team to score 90 here as the defenses still need to figure out exactly how to defend one another before operating with maximum effectiveness, and yes I think it goes beyond just seeing tape and diagramming on the chalk board. I’ll take over the 180 points.