The Chicago Bulls will look to make it three wins in-a-row over the Atlanta Hawks this Sunday in Game 4 of their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal matchup. Tip-off from the Philips Arena in Atlanta is set for 5:00 p.m. (PT) and the game will be broadcast nationally on TNT.
Chicago was stunned 103-95 as a 9 ½-point home favorite in Game 1, but since that point has been rock-solid with a 86-73 romp in Game 2 as a nine-point home favorite followed by a convincing 99-82 victory as a 2 ½-point road favorite on Friday night.
A win Sunday would give the Bulls a commanding 3-1 series lead with Game 5 back in Chicago on Tuesday night.
Newly crowned league MVP Derrick Rose torched Atlanta for 44 points in Game 3 after scoring a combined 49 points in the first two games. He leads the team in scoring this postseason with 28.9 points a game. Luol Deng is the second leading scorer with 16.9 points a game and Joakim Noah leads in rebounds with 11.4.
Carlos Boozer continues to be a non-factor in these playoffs with just 9.8 points a game after averaging over 17 in the regular season.
The Bulls are averaging 96 points a game while giving up just 88.6 points. They are shooting 42.3 percent from the field, but more importantly outrebounding their opponents 46.8 to 37.9. Chicago pulled down 105 boards in the last two games compared to just 73 for the Hawks.
Friday’s loss was Atlanta’s first setback at home in the postseason after beating Orlando three straight times at Philips Arena as a 1 ½-point underdog in each game. The Hawks actually covered the spread in five of the six games in the first round, but are 1-2 against the spread in this series.
Atlanta’s big gun Joe Johnson was held in check in Game 3 with just 10 points after averaging 19.8 points in his first eight playoff games. Jamal Crawford added just seven points off the bench, which was far less than his 19.5 PPG average. The only real bright spot for the Hawks in the past two games has been the play of Jeff Teague, who is filling in for the injured Kirk Hinrich. Teague put up a team-high 21 points in Game 3 after scoring 21 in Wednesday night’s loss.
If the Hawks are going to have any chance in this game, they not only have to find a way to slow down Rose but do a much better job shooting the ball. After converting 51 percent of their shots from the field in Game 1, they went a dismal 26-for-77 in Game 2 and are now just 4-for-19 from 3-point range in the last two games.
Chicago is 3-1 ATS in its last four road games and 4-2 ATS in its last six games overall. The total is 4-4 in its eight playoff games.
Atlanta is 5-3 ATS in its last eight games at home and 6-3 ATS in its last nine games overall. The total has stayed ‘under’ in six of nine games this postseason.
Head-to-head, the Bulls won two of three both straight-up and ATS in the regular season, matching their 2-1 record SU and ATS in this series. The total has gone ‘over’ in six of their last 10 meetings and in two of the three games in this series.
Chicago opened as a 3½-point road favorite for this game and remains a strong play as the momentum in this series is clearly in its favor. Sunday's total is 179.