There are two schools of thought as you break down Friday night's game 3 between the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics. The first is that it's time for the Celtics to assert themselves as the true #1 seed that they are after dropping games 1 and 2 of the series in Boston. The other however, is that the Bulls are simply a bad matchup for Boston and could potentially close out the series in Chicago – as unheard of as that may have seemed before these playoffs started.
Oddsmakers are leaning towards the latter thinking as they have made Chicago -1.5 favorites at the United Center. Boston could be thinking that the time just wasn't right this season. They've had to deal with the distractions behind the death of Isaiah Thomas' sister and will be getting in help in the offseason in the form of a high draft pick (likely #1) received from the Nets.
The Bulls captured a surprising win in game 1 of the series but looked dominant in game 2. In that opener they were able to stave off the Celtics 102-106 behind 30 points from Jimmy Butler and a surprising 19 off the bench from Bobby Portis. Boston was outrebounded 53-36 and couldn't finish the comeback despite 33 from Thomas playing with a heavy heart.
Game 2 was all Chicago in a 111-97 rout. The Bovada bookies expected Boston to regain control of the series as the line jumped from the Celtics -6.5 in game 1 to -7.5 in game 2 but it obviously didn't pan out that way. Chicago showed their surprising depth in this game getting 18 points from Robin Lopez, 16 from Paul Zipser, and 22 apiece from Dwyane Wade and Butler.
Another star of this series for Chicago has been former Celtic PG Rajon Rondo who was a rebound shy of a triple double in game 2. Al Horford has largely been a non-factor for Boston while G Marcus Smart is showing the frustrations that all Celtics players are feeling after being fined for flipping off his own fan the last game.
Even though Chicago barely eeked into the playoffs as the 8 seed in the East, they could actually be better suited for the postseason than the top seeded Celtics. Chicago has a bona fide superstar in Butler, two playoff tested veterans in Wade and Rondo, and a few energetic bigs coming off the bench. On paper it might seem like a ripe time for Boston to right the ship, but the Bulls should be able to feed off the energy in front of the suddenly resurrected home crowd.
Chicago is the pick.