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Bulls, Nets at Last Chance Saloon

Brook Lopez and the Nets will look to stave off the Bulls one last time.

Brook Lopez and the Nets will look to stave off the Bulls one last time.

The Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets will have one last chance Saturday night.

After a tantalizing six games, the two sides will contest a Game 7 to decide who advances to the Eastern Conference semifinals and a knee-shaking matchup with the Miami Heat.

Tip-off is scheduled for 8:00 pm ET from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY.

Nets Staring in the Face of History

In the 45 season the Nets spent in New Jersey and Long Island before, the side never hosted a Game 7. In one year in Brooklyn, that’s exactly what the side will do.

The Nets will entertain Chicago on Saturday night, looking to join the ranks of home teams taking advantage of playing at home. In NBA history, the home team is 102-28 (.75) when playing a Game 7.

The franchise’s only prior Game 7 came in 2004, when the team was derailed by a Detroit Pistons side on its way to an NBA title. That game was played at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

P.J. Carlesimo’s side will also be looking to become just the ninth team to win a series after dropping to a 3-1 deficit. The last side to do that was the 2006 Phoenix Suns, who toppled the Lakers. All-told, teams trailing 3-1 are 8-20 (.400) in Game 7.

However, five Brooklyn players (Reggie Evans, Joe Johnson, Jerry Stackhouse, Gerald Wallace, and Deron Williams) have experienced the pressure of a Game 7. Those players are a combined 6-5 in those games, although Wallace (0-3) is the only player with a losing record under those circumstances.

Carlesimo meanwhile will hope to win his first ever playoff series.

With the Bulls banged-up, the Nets will like their chances. If Kirk Hinrich returns, they may like their chances a little less. Still, in what is the biggest sporting game in Brooklyn since the Dodgers fell to the Yankees in Game 7 of the 1956 World Series, a raucous crowd could make all the difference in this one.

With Kirk Hinrich, the Bulls defended Deron Williams. Without, Williams had a field day.

With Kirk Hinrich, the Bulls defended Deron Williams. Without, Williams had a field day.

Injuries, Sickness Limit Bulls

Playing under the shadow of the absent Derrick Rose, Chicago hasn’t exactly had an easy time of it this season. Things got even worse when Kirk Hinrich – who had done a very good job of locking down Deron Williams – suffered a bruised left calf in Game 4. He’s missed the last two games and the Bulls have missed him.

Hinrich is listed as day-to-day and will be a game-time decision on Saturday night. He’s not the only one either. Joakim Noah (foot) is still suffering while Nate Robinson and Taj Gibson are playing through flu-like symptoms.

The biggest loss for the team could be Luol Deng though. Deng – the Bulls’ best player this season – missed Game 6 with a viral flu, but a trip to the ER on Friday morning suggests it could be something a lot worse (Meningitis?). The team will wait to here if he can travel and take to the court, but a spinal tap suggests the forward will be absent come 8:00 pm ET.

The Bulls kept things close without Deng on Thursday, but Saturday’s game has a very different feel to it.

For starters, the Bulls are looking straight down the barrel of a 0-6 record in Game 7s played on the road. The side has three times advanced from a Game 7, but each success came at home. This is the sort of cloud which, while they’ll deny it, is bound to be hanging over the team.

Add to that a rabid Brooklyn crowd and the Nets’ 26-17 record at home (compared to Chicago’s 22-22 record away from the United Center) and you have a tough hurdle to leap.

But this team has already leaped a ton of tough hurdles this season. What’s one more?

Chicago's injury and sickness list reads like a who's who of bulls players.

Chicago’s injury and sickness list reads like a who’s who of bulls players.

Some Kind of Reward

Whichever battle-worn side emerges from the series is in for a rough time. A quick turnaround will see the victor head to South Beach to take on the Miami Heat on Monday night. The Heat completed a sweep of the Milwaukee Bucks last Sunday (Apr. 28) and will enter the game with one full week of rest. A fully-charged Heat side is the last thing those weary legs are going to want to see.

Until this week, Miami hadn’t swept a series since the 2004-05 season. That year the side swept the New Jersey Nets in the opening round before going on to sweep the Washington Wizards in the second round. Only a Game 7 loss to Detroit prevented the side going to the NBA Finals that year.

Game 7 Betting Options

As has been the case in all six games this series, the home side starts as the favorite. Brooklyn opened -260 on the moneyline compared to Chicago’s +231.

But underdogs have taken a big bite out of this matchup. During the postseason, the underdog is 3-3 adding to a 3-1 record during the regular season. Of course, none of those other sides were quite so decimated by injury and illness as the Bulls are going into Game 7.

The spread opened at 6, with Brooklyn (-113) favored to cover ahead of Chicago (+102).

Chicago covered the spread in three of four regular season games but Brooklyn has taken a 4-2-0 edge during the playoffs, including covering in two straight and three of the last four.

The Nets (39-41-2 ATS) were marginally better than the Bulls (36-46-0 ATS) against the spread in the regular season, but something ugly could be lurking in the water for Williams and Co. Brooklyn only compiled a 16-23-2 ATS record at home, while Chicago went 23-18-0 ATS on the road. Furthermore, the Nets were just 20-23-2 ATS as the favorite, while the Bulls were 21-17-0 ATS as the underdog.

Betting the spread in this game is going to be a white-knuckle ride.

The total opened at 183.5.

During the regular season, Brooklyn (41-41-0) split the over/under right down the middle, while Chicago (37-45-0) favored the under. The regular season series ended 2-2-0 in terms of the over/under.

The first round series so far has seen the total go over four times and under twice. Each of the last three games has gone over, as have three of five played in Brooklyn.

With Chicago potentially undermanned, it could be in Brooklyn’s hands to send the total over. But then again, who’s to say we’re not going to be treated to a repeat of the Game 4 shootout.



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)

GAME 5: Chicago 91, Brooklyn 110

GAME 6: Brooklyn 95, Chicago 92

GAME 7: Chicago at Brooklyn (Sat, May 4, 8:00 pm ET)

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