We may be getting a preview of this season’s NBA Finals when the Chicago Bulls visit the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday.
And although the Miami Heat in particular might beg to differ, a win for the Bulls would illustrate that their current status as third favourites to win the title (available at 5.00) might be misplaced.
Even in the absence of Derrick Rose, the reigning MVP, Chicago has barely slipped off the pace with John Lucas stepping in and Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer stepping up. They still give up the second least points in the NBA and have the highest points differential, winning by an average of 8.6 per game.
The Western Conference-leading Thunder – having claimed five consecutive victories - are third in the rankings at 6.6 but last season, in two meetings between these teams, OKC were forced into poor shooting by the Bulls perimeter defence. That’s a danger again. During their last six games, the Bulls have won six times and only twice given up more than their average of 88.9 points.
Even without Rose, that should give them a shot at breaking Oklahoma’s run by keeping it a tight contest.
The Magic has been missing of late in Orlando. Two straight losses. And their last win against a team with a current winning record was on March 13, in overtime against Miami.
Denver, with its free-flowing offense, and solid rebounding, has sustained surprising losses in Toronto and Minnesota over the last week but they’ve shown themselves capable all season of upsetting bigger names. With Orlando looking vulnerable, the Nuggets could strike gold on Sunday and +5 on them looks a good bet.
Elsewhere, Sunday’s Euroleague Women final in Istanbul is an all-Spanish affair between Ros Casares and Rivas Ecopolis. Ros Casares are undoubted favourites and in the domestic league this season, they won both meetings by over 19 points. But with Rivas in fine form throughout this week, expect this to be a much fiercer duel decided by less than 11-point margin forecast.
Bet of the Day: Go under 193.0 points total in Chicago @ Oklahoma at 1.91