Chicago at Boston NBA Playoffs Game 1 Betting Prediction & OddsWhen: Sunday, 6:30 p.m. ET Where: TD Garden, Boston TV: TNT Stream: NBA.tv Radio: Chicago / Boston NBA Odds: Celtics -7.5 (207.5)
Why Bet On Chicago?Chicago finished its last 10 games with a 7-3 record, and literally finished the season on a high note: the Bulls’ 37 points in the fourth quarter of their final regular season game vs. the Nets on April 12 set a season high for fourth-quarter scoring. Chicago won its regular season finale by 39 points after defeating Orlando by 47 points on Monday. It marked the first time in franchise history that the Bulls put together consecutive wins of 39 or more points, and they are the first team in the NBA since the Knicks in 1994 to do so.
Does experience matter? The Celtics have the least playoff experience (5,461 minutes) of any No. 1 seed since the 2004-05 Phoenix Suns. Dwyane Wade alone (6,380 minutes) has more playoff experience than Boston’s entire roster, and Chicago has nearly 7,000 more minutes total. Last year with Miami, the Wade elevated his playoff scoring to 21.4 ppg while converting 12 of 23 (52.2%) from the arc after going 7 for 44 during the regular season. Can he do that again?
In their two wins over the Celtics this season (both in Chicago), the Bulls outscored the Celtics 40-9 on second chance points. The Celtics ranked 27th in defensive rebounding percentage, and are matched up with the league’s fourth best offensive rebounding team. The 15.0 offensive rebounds the Bulls averaged in the four games were their highest average against any Eastern Conference opponent.
The Bulls have been especially effective on the offensive glass this season, tied for first in the NBA with 12.2 offensive boards per game. Chicago has been able to take advantage of those rebounds and is tied for first in the league in second-chance points with 15.1 per game.
Opponents do make a lot of field goals against Chicago (39.5, T-17th) – but not 3-pointers (8.9, T-5th) and not free throws (14.6, 2nd). By holding opponents to 2-point makes and limiting those “extra/free” points, the Bulls have been able to keep opponents’ scoring in check.
Why Bet On Boston?Boston wrapped up the regular season with not only the best record in the East but also, thanks to anability to swap picks with the Nets, the best chance at landing the No. 1 pick in May’s draft lottery. For a team that had to claw its way to simply snag the last playoff berth in the East two seasons ago, the No. 1 spot simply shows how far the team has come.
It’s the first time since 2008 that Boston is the top seed. That club won the NBA Finals. By some statistical measures, these Celtics are the worst top seed in many years. Boston’s point differential of plus-2.7 and net rating (points per 100 possessions) of plus-3.1 are the worst marks for a No. 1 since the 1978-79 Seattle SuperSonics, although that team won the NBA title.
A big question is whether the Celtics will be able to elevate their play: They sneaked past Cleveland to the No. 1 seed by beating the lesser opponents, which enabled the Celtics to survive their 5-10 record against Nos. 2-5 in the East.
Boston was 2-2 vs. Chicago this year, winning both at home. The Celtics beat the Bulls 107-100 on Nov. 2 and 100-80 on March 12 in the most recent matchup. That latter game was thus the only one played between the two after Chicago had dealt Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott to Oklahoma City at the trade deadline. That weakened the Bulls a bit.
Isaiah Thomas, having one of the greatest offensive seasons in Celtics history and just sixth player in team history to reach 2,000 points, averaged 24.8 points and 5.8 assists this year vs. Chicago. Thomas is the East’s leading closer in Thomas (9.8 points per fourth quarter). Though he averaged “only’’ the 24.8 ppg against Chicago, Thomas succeeded in shooting 53.8% overall and 48.4% from the 3-point line. BPI gives the Celtics a 72 percent chance to win the first-round matchup. Historically, the Bulls are just 3-14 all-time vs. the Celtics in the playoffs.