5/4 – Bulls at Cavaliers

7pm - Chicago at Cleveland -4.5  O/U 195.5

This Eastern Conference semifinal series shapes up a lot different than anticipated as far as Cleveland's personnel.  With Kevin Love out with the shoulder injury and J.R. Smith's 2 game suspension, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving will have to perform at their highest level.

The Bulls got a pretty good test in the first round as the upstart Bucks took them to 6 games.  Derrick Rose has a chance to prove he is still an elite guard if he can lead his team to the conference finals and beyond.  He's got plenty of help with the likes of Jimmy Butler, Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah.  Coach Tom Thibodeau can also showcase his coaching chops as some in Chicago are calling for his ouster despite his relative success.

The Cavaliers have not played since ending their 4 game sweep of the Celtics on April 26th.  They'll be rested, but they'll be shorthanded, too, as I mentioned earlier.  James will need to be the best player on the court and Irving must outplay Rose.  Tristan Thompson is expected to replace Love in the starting lineup.

Many believe Cleveland is ripe to lose this one, and it would not shock me if they do, but I think they'll win the series opener at home.  Whatever their issues, they still have James and Irving, are the number 2 seed and are playing at home.  I expect a close game, but I think they'll cover the number by hitting their free throws late in the game.

Cleveland 99  Chicago 93

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