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Bulls Look to Finish Nets

After an historic triple-overtime victory in Game 4, the Chicago Bulls will look to finish off the Brooklyn Nets Monday night in Game 5 of the opening round series.

A grueling 63 minutes of play on Saturday saw the Bulls take a 3-1 series lead, moving to within one-game of advancing to the Eastern Conference semifinals without All-Star point guard, Derrick Rose, something few expected.

Tip-off in Game 5 is scheduled for 7:00 PM ET from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Series Recap

Nate Robinson was the unlikely hero in Game 5.

Nate Robinson was the unlikely hero in Game 5.

Chicago opened the series on the wrong end of a 106-89 score. In four regular season meetings, neither the Bulls nor Nets had breached the 100-point marker. For many, the Nets’ dominance towards the end of that game suggested the Bulls might be in big trouble.

Looking to salvage a trip to the Boroughs, Chicago squeaked out a 93-89 victory in Game 2 thanks to triple-doubles from the entire front line of Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, and Carlos Boozer. Having leaked points in Game 1, the Bulls defense limited Deron Williams to just eight points on 1-9 shooting.

Chicago’s defense took the spotlight as the series switched to the Windy City. The Nets shot just 35 percent, and found themselves blocked on 10 occasions. The Bulls didn’t shoot much better, but the scrappy, patchy game was far more in keeping with the defensive-minded Bulls’ thinking than the Nets.

Then came the offensive deluge of Game 4. The Bulls managed to come back from a 14-point deficit in the second-half to force overtime. The extra frame wasn’t enough to separate the two sides, nor was an additional period. Ultimately, it was in the third overtime session that the Bulls carved out a 142-134 victory. The game’s surprise leader was diminutive guard Nate Robinson, who went off for 34 points off the bench, including 29 in the fourth quarter and beyond.

Game 5 Preview

For Chicago, Game 5 offers the opportunity to secure an early advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals, and a series with the Miami Heat, 4-0 winners over Milwaukee.

For Brooklyn, Monday night’s game is all about survival. The Nets have history on their side though, to an extent.

In franchise history, the Nets are 7-0 all-time when beginning a series with home court advantage. That record includes a 5-0 record when winning Game 1, as the side did this series. The last time the Nets faced elimination during a Game 5 was in 2007, a game in which the side defeated Cleveland.

Now, add to that the fact that Chicago is 22-18 (.550) all-time in Game 5s and 7-14 (.333) in Game 5s played on the road. That gives the Nets a very real hope of coming out of Monday with championship hopes still intact. Well, almost. The Bulls are 8-4 (.667) in Game 5s when leading a series 3-1.

If harbingers weren’t already stacked up against Brooklyn, the team’s head coach, P.J. Carlesimo has not won two playoff games in a season since his days in Portland back in 1996. Granted, stints with Golden State (1997-2000) and Seattle/Oklahoma City (2007-2009) were playoff-free, so he’s not exactly had the opportunities. He for one will hope the Nets change these fortunes on Monday night.

Even if Brooklyn picks up the victory in Game 5, the future is still bleak. Chicago is 12-0 in playoff series when taking a 3-1 lead. The side has also advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals each time it has begun the postseason as the No. 5 seed (1981, 1995, 2007). That’s more bad news for the Nets.

That could be bad news for the Bulls also. In each of those seasons, the side was eliminated at the conference semifinals stage. With Miami lying in wait, bookies would expect the same to happen this year.

In terms of injury, Chicago will be without Derrick Rose (knee) and have both Joakim Noah (foot) and Vladimir Radmanovic (back) listed as day-to-day. Brooklyn is at full strength.

Joakim Noah and Brook Lopez will likely be involved in a close contest Monday night.

Joakim Noah and Brook Lopez will likely be involved in a close contest Monday night.

Betting Options

With the series returning to Brooklyn, the Bulls will return to the role of underdog. During this season, the underdog is 5-3 when the Bulls and Nets have met, including a 2-2 record in the postseason.

The point spread opened at 5.5.

During the regular season, Chicago (36-46-0 ATS) struggled against the spread, tallying a 15-25-1 ATS record away from home. Brooklyn (39-41-2 ATS) was only marginally better, managing to record a 22-17-1 ATS record at Barclays Center.

However, Chicago recorded a 21-17-0 ATS record as the underdog, while Brooklyn was 20-23-2 ATS as the favorite.

Chicago is also 5-3-0 ATS when playing Brooklyn this season, including a 2-2-0 ATS record in the playoffs.

The total opened at 180.

While Chicago (37-45-0) favored the under this season, the Nets (41-41-0) split the over/under straight down the middle. This latter trend is something that has followed in the series.

In eight games, the total has gone over four times and under four times, including twice each in the playoffs. The same tendency has followed at both United Center and Barclays Center. Picking the over/under in this series is an absolute nightmare.



GAME 1: Chicago 89, Brooklyn 106

GAME 2: Chicago 90, Brooklyn 82

GAME 3: Brooklyn 76, Chicago 79

GAME 4: Brooklyn 134, Chicago 142 (3OT) (Chicago leads 3-1)

GAME 5: Chicago at Brooklyn (Mon, Apr. 29, 7:00 PM ET)

GAME 6: Brooklyn at Chicago (Thu, May 2, TBC) *

GAME 7: Chicago at Brooklyn (Sat, May 4, TBC) *

*If necessary

Series winner plays Miami in Eastern Conference semifinals.

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