April 25th 2014 - Posted at 5:00 PM Eastern Time
Saturday's picks will be posted at the standard time. (11:00 AM ET)
Take Chicago Bulls at +3 spread (buy half a point if needed) against Washington Wizards risking 2%
The Chicago Bulls let a 10 point lead slip away late in the 4th quarter and ultimately lost in overtime in game 2. We had said that after falling down 0-1 in the series to the Wizards that the Bulls needed to win Game 2 in order to even up the score and get back into this series. A scoring drought in the final 5 minutes however meant they didn't do that. They are now sitting in a 0-2 hole. They are essentially two games away from being eliminated from the playoffs and have 2 road games staring them right in the face. Everything that we had thought would come into play motivation wise is doubled for Game 3 since no team in history has ever come back from a 0-3 deficit and the Bulls know that very well making this essentially a do or die situation!
We're not taking anything away from the Washington Wizards, they are a very good team and had been undervalued which is why we had bet on them more than any other team in the league during the regular season! But after seeing the Wizards beat the Bulls on the road in two straight games, public perception has as usual changed too quickly. The Wizards have won and covered their last 6 games and people are NOW jumping on their bandwagon. Meanwhile, Chicago has missed the cover in 5 of their last 6 games and that means casual fans are reluctant to back them. This is the perfect situation to "buy low and sell high".
Game 3 is a pivotal game. It is a chance for teams to take control of the series but for Chicago is becomes much more than that. For Chicago this is a game that they need in order to stay relevant in the series. The Bulls are still a solid basketball team with good fundamentals. They have struggled on the offensive side but ultimately both games in this series so far has come down to plays down the stretch and Washington has been the team that has made them. This series could have easily been 2-0 in favor of the Bulls had it not been for some questionable plays and coaching decisions in the final few minutes. Some have forgotten that the Bulls held a double digit lead in the 4th quarter of both games.
The Bulls were -5 point favorites against the Wizards in the first two games at home. But having lost both of those games they now find themselves as +3 underdogs. While it's not uncommon for the role of favorites to be shifted at home, this line could easily have opened up at PK or +1. Because of the recent performances of the teams however, this line has been inflated creating value on the underdog. The Bulls desperately need this game and we expect them to do whatever it takes. It's also worth noting that the Wizards have the worst home record of all 16 playoff teams and have often played better on the road than at Verizon Center!
While Washington appears firmly in control of this series at the moment, being a young team, it's not uncommon to see a bit of complacency and ego start to develop. We expect both teams to be on different levels when it comes to urgency and motivation tonight. If Chicago loses, it's absolutely devastating and they might as well pack their bags and make holiday plans. If Washington loses however, it's not a big deal since they would still have 2 other home games to close out the series. To know that you don't necessarily "need" a win sometimes messes with an athlete's mentality. The Wizards have powered through a lot of adversity and even battled back from some big deficits in this series. If that happens again tonight, we may not see that same kind of drive out of the Wizards, instead we may see them accept defeat and save energy for the next one.
The Wizards are playing their first playoff home game in 6 years and as we stated earlier, this team is still young. Playing in front of their home crowd and looking to put on a show can sometimes add a lot of pressure and nerves may be a factor. Even established players like John Wall and Bradley Beal have never played a playoff home game before and if they feel the need to impress their crowd or underestimate the Bulls just a little bit, that could be their downfall. Even if Washington does happen to win, we expect this game to come right down to the wire with perhaps the final shot determining the winner. In what should be a fairly low scoring defensive game, 3 points are extremely precious and may well come into play. Back the capable underdog in this one.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Chicago is 15-3 ATS in road games on Friday nights over the last 2 seasons!
- Washington is 11-25 ATS off 2 or more consecutive road wins.
- Chicago a stellar 27-14 ATS off a home loss in the past three seasons!
- Chicago is 25-16 ATS revenging a loss vs opponent this season.
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