NBA: The end is near for Chicago



2010-04-27

Last season, the Chicago Bulls pushed the Boston Celtics to the brink of a first round playoff exit, losing a classic series in seven games. It certainly doesn’t look as if the Bulls have that type of effort ready for 2010 versus the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron James has been his usual sterling self in getting his team to within one win of advancing to the second round. The decisive game could be Tuesday night in Cleveland, and Sportsbook.com oddsmakers weren’t shy in showing their support for the hosts, listing the Cavs as 12-point chalk.

The confidence with which the Cleveland Cavaliers play is flabbergasting. For three quarters of Game 3, Chicago took the action to Cleveland, holding a double digit lead most of the time. The Bulls were the aggressor and it appeared Cavs players were satisfied with their less than full effort. In the fourth quarter the Cavs came storming back with LeBron taking over the offense and his teammates knocking down three-pointers, finally succumbing by just two points 108-106, as Chicago made their free throws late.

The most stunning aspect of the closeness of that contest was the reaction of James and his teammates, not long faces from losing a game they could have won by playing all 48 minutes, but they were smiling, with a almost maniacal grin of “Oh man, we almost got’em, we’ll take care of this later”.

There were no smiles before Game 4 as King James led a tyrant army of mercenaries into the United Center and blew away their Windy City counterparts by 22. Cleveland returns home to end the series and is 18-6 ATS after a blowout win by 20 points or more.

Cleveland is starting to reap the rewards for trading for Antawn Jamison, who scored 24 points in Game 2. Jamison is highly respected around the league and didn’t come to Cleveland to improve his legacy, but rather to get a championship ring. At 33, Jamison is sensing his basketball mortality.

“This is an opportunity of a lifetime,” he said. “I don’t have another five or 10 years left in this body. The sense of urgency is there, not only with myself but with the rest of these guys. That’s why I think it’s a great fit because we all have the same mentality. We are all trying to accomplish the same thing—right now. We’re not trying to wait until next year or the year after that.” The Cavs have covered 42 of their previous 66 playoff games.

Chicago is also sensing their mortality, about this season. Star guard Derrick Rose missed practice Monday to undergo an MRI on his right ankle and forward Luol Deng sat out with a sore knee and calf. The Bulls are once again dozen points underdogs and hope to hit enough shots to improve on a 19-10 ATS record revenging a same season loss.

The Cavaliers will look to polish this series off and most likely go on to face Boston next. They are 17-7 UNDER after winning by 20 or more points, with average margin of victory 13.9 points for this 8:00E TNT broadcast.

The StatFox Power Line shows Cleveland by 12, matching the number.

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