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The Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers meet head to head for the fifth time this season in game one of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Tip off at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH is at 3:00 ET on Saturday. TV coverage is provided by ABC.
Odds makers have been sharp as neither one of these two teams has been better over the other at the spread. Their respective at the spread victories have each come once at home and once away. The two teams met earlier this month in Chicago. The Bulls won 109-108, and Cleveland covered as 6.5 point underdogs.
Going into Saturday’s game with a questionable Shaq, the Cavaliers are 11 point favorites. The total stands at 191 at most books. This season has been a sign that Shaq is more memories than material. Of course the world is watching LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers fight for another shot to be NBA champions.
LeBron is averaging 29.7 points per game with 7.3 rebounds and 8.6 assists. LeBron was rested in Wednesday’s game against the Hawks, and this means Chicago will have even more of a challenge limiting his abilities. With three or more days rest, LeBron puts up better numbers. He takes more shots, gets more rebounds, and plays more minutes. How does Chicago stop arguably the greatest player currently in the NBA?
The eight seeded Bulls (41-41) look to put something together after defeating the Charlotte Bobcats 98-89 on the road. The Bulls (17-24 away) performed in a way in which many did not expect. Derrick Rose put up 27 points. Joakim Noah added 21 points and 13 rebounds. Rose hit two of four three point shots. Kirk Hinrich also went two for four and shot 50% from beyond the three.
Bull’s center, Joakim Noah, is outspoken about his team staying positive with Chicago’s upcoming challenge in the first round of the playoffs. He was quoted saying on Thursday that he and his team mates are giving everything they’ve got. The past is the past, and they only care about figuring out how to win a basketball game.
Playing cohesively as a team is what will give the Bulls a shot at defeating the best team record wise in the NBA. Taj Gibson is also rebounding well. Averaging 7.9 rebounds per game during the regular season, the Chicago forward had 13 rebounds in Wednesday’s game, tying Noah’s efforts.
With Cleveland as a double digit favorite and deserving every point going into Saturday’s game, the Chicago Bulls will need to work together, which is something they have been circumstantially unable to do this season. They work to capitalize on their current three game winning streak as they rush into the playoffs on two days of rest.
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