The Chicago Bulls have been the most surprising team of the first week of the 2017 NBA Playoffs. They’ll look to keep that going when they host the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of their first-round series Friday night.
After winning two straight games on the road, the No.8 seed Bulls return home to the United Center for a 7 p.m. EDT start time. ESPN will have the TV coverage, and fans can watch a free live stream online with WatchESPN.
As the No.1 seed in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics were considered by some to be a real threat to reach the NBA Finals. Now, the team has to worry about winning a game and making sure the series returns to Boston.
Not only are the Bulls favored for the first time this series, but they are now the betting favorite to advance to the second round. The Game 3 betting line is 1.5 points, via OddsShark, and the over/under is 207.
The Celtics haven’t gotten much offensive production outside of Isaiah Thomas. The point guard is putting up 26.5 points per game in the playoffs, and no one else on the team is even averaging half as many points. With Thomas unable to stop Rajon Rondo on the other end of the floor, Chicago has been able to dominate the first two games.
The Bulls have looked much improved from the team that didn’t have a winning record in the regular season. After one of the worst seasons of his career, Rondo is looking like his old self and nearly averaging a triple-double. Dwyane Wade, a poor three-point shooter for his entire career, is making 67 percent of his shots from behind the arc.
Chicago even got an unexpected contribution from Bobby Portis in Game 1. In his first ever playoff game, the rookie scored 19 points on just 10 field goal attempts, falling one rebound shy of a double-double.
Jimmy Butler has been terrific, and that was to be expected, but the rest of the Bulls might come back to earth in Game 3.
Boston isn’t a legitimate title contender, and they might not win the series. But they were too good in the regular season to be eliminated from the playoffs without any kind of a fight. Look for players like Avery Bradley and Al Horford to step up, getting the Celtics back into this series.
Prediction: Boston over Chicago, 105-100