Round 1 of the NBA Playoffs begin on Saturday and I will have a free pick in the game between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Chicago Bulls, which will take place at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. The game has a start time of 7:00 pm (Eastern) and will be televised on ESPN. Current Vegas betting odds have the Bulls listed as 7.5 point favorites, while the total is set at 186.
Analysis: Milwaukee finished 3rd in the Central Division with a 41-41 mark overall, that include a record of 18-23 on the road. This is a team that has been inconsistent all year and is not really expected to be around all that long in the playoffs. Milwaukee has gone 6-1-1 ATS in their last 8 games following a ATS loss and 12-5 ATS in their last 17 games playing on 2 days rest, but 0-11-1 ATS in their last 12 after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game. The Bucks have not been a good offensive team this year, ranking 22nd in scoring (97.8 ppg), 7th in shooting, 7th in 3 point shooting and 12th in FT shooting. Defensively the Bucks have been solid this year, ranking 8th in points allowed (97.4 ppg), 5th in defensive FG% and 8th in 3 point defense.
The Bulls led the Central Division for much of the year, but they have battled injuries all year and finally succumbed to the Cleveland Cavaliers, which many felt would happen. The Bulls have gone 50-32 overall, which includes a mark of 27-14 at home. Chicago has gone 6-0 ATS in their last 6 when their opponent scores 100 points or more in their previous game and 5-1 ATS the last 6 in the series, but just 7-17 ATS in their last 24 games following a ATS win. The Bulls have been an average offensive team this year, ranking 15th in scoring (100.8 ppg), 22nd in shooting, 10th in 3 point shooting and 3rd in FT shooting. Defensively the Bulls have been solid, ranking 9th in points allowed (97.8 ppg), 4th in defensive FG% and 3rd in 3 point defense.
Pick: I will be going with the under in this game. This whole series should be low scoring as both teams have the first to 90 mentality, which should mean that most games will be played at 180 or less. This really has been a low scoring series as the 4 games played this year has put up just 176.8 ppg, while the last 8 between these teams have put up just 173.1 ppg, with just 1 of those games seeing more than 186 points. The Bulls have allowed just 92.2 ppg in their last 5 games, while the Bucks have allowed just 94 ppg in their last 5 games and game ones of a playoff series are usually low scoring anyway. I look for this one to to be played in the 170's.
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