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May 8, 2015 (Posted at 5:00 PM ET)

Take Chicago Bulls at -2 spread against Cleveland Cavaliers risking 3% of the bankroll.

The series shifts to the United Center tonight as the Cleveland Cavaliers travel to take on the Chicago Bulls in Game 3 of their 7 game series. 
Prior to this series starting, if someone had told the Chicago Bulls that when the series switch back to the United Center that they be tied at one game apiece with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago likely would have been happy with that results, however after a tough loss in Game 2 on Wednesday, the Bulls will need to rebound and make adjustments if they expect to defeat Cleveland 3 more times to advance to the Conference Championship series.  

Despite missing both J.R. Smith and the injured Kevin Love in Game 2, Cleveland seemed to come out of the gate firing in Game 2 and they never stopped. LeBron James ended up having a monster game, dropping 33 points and dishing out five assists as he served as the driving force behind the offense. Kyrie Irving had an efficient day on the court with 21 points and three assists, and Tristan Thompson dominated the glass as he hauled in 12 rebounds in the victory. The Cavs managed to put up 38 points in the first quarter and largely coasted on that lead for the remainder of the game. Chicago will need to get off to an early start in this contest tonight. 

As for their performance in Game 2, Chicago can take away a few positive moments that could give them confidence heading into tonight's contest. Derrick Rose once again showed some great ball control in the contest, handing out 10 assists while only turning the ball over twice. That is a promising sign that the Rose of old is getting back to playing at the elite level that made him the league MVP a number of years back. He also managed to haul in seven rebounds to go along with his 14 points. Jimmy Butler was also on his game offensively, scoring 18 points in the game. Despite those bright spots, Chicago came out flat in the first quarter, and the Cavaliers’ initial punch was enough to put them off balance for the remainder of the game. Add to that the fact that Rose and Butler combined to miss a staggering 23 shots and that Pau Gasol only went 3 of 8 from the field in the game and one can see why the loss was so disheartening after such a solid Game 1 effort. Much like the Cavalier did in Game 2, we expect the Bulls to learn from that loss, make adjustments and come out of the gate firing tonight in Game 3. 

The Bulls’ success in Game 1 was largely due to the fact that they were making shots, whereas in Game 2 they were not. In Game 1, the Bulls made exactly 50 percent of their shots from the field. In Game 2, they only made 40.5 percent and ended up losing by 15 points. In order to compete with Cleveland, the Bulls have to not only taken higher percentage shots, but they have to make more of them. Rose can’t continue to settle outside at the perimeter and continuously shoot jump. He has to be willing to attack the rim more regularly and actually get to the foul line. Pau Gasol was kept in check due to the fact that Cleveland went with a much bigger lineup with Thompson and Mozgov. Gasol is a seasoned veteran and we expect him to make the necessary adjustments to contend with Cleveland's size down low. He has proven to be deadly from 15 feet when he gets an open look and wouldn't be surprised to see him take longer range shots tonight. 

In addition to taking higher percentage shots, the Bulls also have to figure out a way to keep LeBron and Irving reasonably in check. Those guys are superstars and there is no way to completely shut them down. They are going to score their fair share of baskets, but they managed to completely shred the Bulls defense in Game 2, so while they will unlikely completely stop their offense, they have to find a way to force other role players to beat them. If Mozgov, Shumpert or Thompson happens to go off for 25+ points, so be it, but they cannot allow James and Irving to completely take the game over and we expect them to do their best to slow them down tonight. 

The Bulls have proven to be a tough team at home and the United Center can be an unforgiving place for opponents to play in. We expect the Bulls fans to be out in the masses tonight and the building to be electric. We feel that the Cavaliers being listed as the underdogs in this contest is pretty significant. It’s not too often that Cleveland have been in the role of an underdog this season, in fact it has happened only 15 times all season long and in those 15 games they are just 3-12 both straight up and ATS! This is not a good sign for Cavs backers. We expect the Bulls to bounce back from their Game 2 loss and come away with a win tonight. With the spread being only -2, a victory should be enough to come away with the cover. 

Other notable facts to consider:

  • The Bulls are 9-1 SU and 7-3 ATS in their last 10 home games!
  • Cleveland is 0-3 as a road underdog of 3 points or less this season!
  • The Bulls are 4-1 when listed as a home favorite of 3 or less points this season.

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