With a chance to send the No. 1 overall seed Chicago Bulls home early, the eighth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers need to put the throttle to the floor and finish their Eastern Conference foe off while they can (PHI leads 3-1).
The Bulls are still a deep team with tons of talent that can get hot on any given day. If the Sixers don’t put the Bulls out of their misery, they could come back to make this series a lot more interesting than it should be.
Where: United Center, Chicago, IL
When: Tuesday, May 8, 8:30 p.m. ET
Watch: NBA TV
Live Stream: NBA League Pass
Betting Line (according to Yahoo! Sports)
Spread: Chicago -5, Over/Under: 171.5
As hard as it is to see Chicago getting bounced in five games during the first round, there is little doubt that the Derrick Rose-less Bulls aren’t the same team. I will take Philadelphia for the outright win and take the under because neither team has any offensive consistency right now.
Key Injuries (via CBS Sports):
No Injuries to Report
Joakim Noah, C, Out for Game 5
Derrick Rose, PG, Out for Season
What’s at Stake?
For the Bulls, the entire season culminates in one game. If they want to make a last-ditch effort at a run, Chicago must come out and leave it all on the floor. Philadelphia needs to withstand the Bulls' opening surge and play their style of defense until Chi-town finally submits.
What They're Saying
CEO and Co-Owner of the Philadelphia 76ers Adam Aron talks about the city’s enthusiasm towards their team:
@Sixers and Bulls... C O N F E T T I. Now up 3-1 in series. Thank you to our players, talk of the town.— Adam Aron (@SixersCEOAdam) May 6, 2012
I love playoff basketball, but this Bulls Sixers series is tough to watch..— Kyle Rudolph (@KyleRudolph82) May 6, 2012
ChiTown Sports couldn’t have sounded more jaded if they had tried. Maybe next year…
C'mon Sixers. You can't really believe you're beating a true #1 seed... The #Bulls are crippled— ChiTown (@ChiTownSports) May 7, 2012
Most Important Player to Watch: Evan Turner
The Bulls' worst position has been shooting guard all season, but most experts didn’t believe the Sixers had a player that could capitalize on that weakness. That was until Evan Turner stepped up and took the starting job.
In the Conference Quarterfinals, Turner is averaging 14 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists and a steal per game; not to mention the stellar defense he has been showing.
If Philadelphia can get their young shooter hitting his shot on a more consistent basis, Turner could really be the future of the franchise like they thought he would be when they took him No. 2 overall.
Key Matchup: Andre Iguodala vs. Luol Deng
With Derrick Rose out, the offensive pressure falls to the shoulder of Bulls small forward Luol Deng; that’s why the team is down 3-1 in the series. If Chicago wants any chance to advance to the next round, they need to get Deng going and fast.
The problem is that the Sixers have shut-down defender Andre Iguodala draped all over him. This will become battle of which star can get on track offensively first and whose defense will hold on the longest.
Prediction: Sixers 83, Bulls 79
After a long season and a heartbreaking first-round series, the Sixers will put Chicago out of their misery and begin their run towards an NBA Championship. Injuries have played a huge role in this series, but Philadelphia deserves plenty of credit for their play.
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