Bulls Have Suddenly Become Big Story… But Is Their Championship Hype Mostly Bull?!

We hadn’t planned on spending any time this week on the Eastern Conference series matching the Chicago Bulls and the Milwaukee Bucks. After Chicago won the first three games…things pretty much seemed over. And, anyway…the Bulls were going to be a clear underdog to Eastern favorite Cleveland in the second round. We’d get to them later.

Then…the Kevin Love injury happened!

Suddenly, everyone was picking Chicago to win the East because Cleveland had been “eliminated,” because top seed Atlanta had been “exposed” by mediocre play vs. Brooklyn, and because the media can’t help jumping on the Derrick Rose bandwagon whenever he goes 10 minutes without limping.

Monday night in Game Five of Bulls/Bucks, Chicago basically played like a team that had spent the day celebrating their second round win over Cleveland! They didn’t focus on the task at hand…and were embarrassed by a young upstart that wasn’t interested in lying down before starting an extended vacation. Let’s run those numbers before moving on…

GAME FIVE STATS
Milwaukee 94, Chicago 88
Shooting Pct: Milwaukee 42%, Chicago 34%
Three-Pointers: Milwaukee 6/14, Chicago 4/22
Free Throws: Milwaukee 16/16, Chicago 22/29
Rebounds: Milwaukee 48, Chicago 45
Turnovers: Milwaukee 17, Chicago 12
Vegas Line: Chicago by 8, total of 189.5

Just awful from the Chicago perspective. They couldn’t make a shot. They were horrible from long range. They were outrebounded. Derrick Rose was 5 of 20 shooting with six turnovers and only two assists. Backcourt cohort Jimmy Butler was 5 of 21 himself. Certainly not a team that was likely to crush Cleveland, let alone Milwaukee.

The Bucks are still a longshot to win the series because Milwaukee has such a poor offense. They can win if Chicago keeps shooting 34%! And, they can certainly put a scare into the Bulls based on what we’ve seen the last three games. The Bucks are 3-0 ATS and 2-0-1 at the end of regulation in those meetings. Did the Bulls know this was a best-of-seven?

If you like Cinderella stories…it was great to see the young Bucks play with such fire. Michael Carter-Williams showed the high end of his erratic inconsistency with an evening of successfully attacking the basket. You don’t get the sense, though that he can do that two more times. Who is going to pick up his expected slack?

The market is expecting a Bulls’ bounce back given the current price for Game Six…

Las Vegas Line: Chicago by 3.5, total of 187.5

That’s not “Hey, maybe Milwaukee can win this series.” That’s “Chicago is still about 6 points better on a neutral court and probably won’t sleepwalk.” The market STILL isn’t respecting Milwaukee.

JIM HURLEY has been eyeing this game very closely. It’s definitely one that can miss the mark by at least five points either way depending on whether or not Chicago makes the right adjustments. You know Milwaukee is going to bring defensive length and speed. If they’ve started to believe in themselves…things could get very interesting. But, if they shot their bullets Monday, then there may be nothing left for crunch time this time around.

*Chicago can win by 8-10…possibly more if the Bucks give up
*Milwaukee can win its third straight in the series by maintaining peak intensity

You can purchase the final word for Thursday right here at the website with your credit card. That will be the best from this game plus Game Six of Clippers/Spurs in Antonio…and Major League Baseball. If you have any questions about extended service, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453 during normal business hours Thursday. Don’t forget that the Kentucky Derby runs this Saturday! Nobody handicaps the horses like JIM HURLEY! We have great combination packages that include basketball, baseball, and the Triple Crown horse races.

Back with you tomorrow in the NOTEBOOK for Game Six of Atlanta/Brooklyn. Here’s what’s ahead this weekend…

Friday: Atlanta at Brooklyn Game Six
Saturday: Game Seven (if necessary) from San Antonio/LA Clippers or Milwaukee Chicago
Sunday: Game Seven of Atlanta/Brooklyn, or a second round series opener

Once the Round Two schedule is set, we’ll stagger series previews of the four matchups to line up sequentially. It always gets a bit crazy in the NBA Playoffs in terms of planning too far ahead. Rest assured that the NOTEBOOK will keep you on top of developments…and that JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK will keep you in the money!

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Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley
Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

 

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