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NBA Playoff Betting — Wizards Get Nene Back and Can Close Out Bulls

The Chicago Bulls had a golden opportunity to pull even with the Washington Wizards on Sunday, especially since the Wizards were missing their inspirational leader, Nene Hilario, who was suspended for a game because of bad conduct. But maybe they were taking that win for granted. That is kind of surprising for a veteran team that has seen plenty of playoff action, and now the Bulls are on the brink of elimination as they play host to the Wizards on Tuesday night at 8 PM ET at the United Center.

If anything, Washington really stepped up its effort in Game 4, shutting the Bulls down at the perimeter, forcing 16 turnovers and getting a nice performance from Trevor Booker in place of Nene, as he pulled down nine rebounds in the 98-89 victory.

The biggest impact, however, was made by Trevor Ariza, who scored 30 points, which included a half-dozen three-pointers, and this neutralized Taj Gibson’s 32 points on Sunday. It was also nearly impossible for the Bulls to capitalize on mistakes by the Wizards, as Washington committed just six turnovers and yielding only two fast break points.

Nene returns to action for Tuesday night’s game. And in the NBA playoff betting lines that have been posted on this game by the people at WagerWeb, the Bulls are laying points:

Chicago Bulls -4.5
Washington Wizards +4.5

Over 183.5 points -110
Under 183.5 points -110

Many teams go with an eight-man rotation in the playoffs, and the Wizards have really gotten some production out of their people. In fact, eight different players have scored 20 points or more at least once in this series. That is amazing.

There is a Washington Post story where it was mentioned that Joakim Noah was more or less celebrating on the morning of Game 4, operating under the assumption that the Bulls would even up the series at two games apiece and go back to the “crib” with a chance to get a leg up. Such thoughts can really come back to bite you, as most NBA playoff bettors are aware.

WagerWeb customers know that the Bulls were not able to get the same kind of production out of Mike Dunleavy, who nailed 35 points in the Game 3 victory but bruised his thumb and made only three field goals in 35 minutes of action on Sunday. He went through a practice session on Monday and will play in Game 5.

One encouraging thing you can say about the Bulls is that they made 52.5% of their two-point attempts in Sunday’s game, and the long-range bombing is not really their game anyway. It would be nice if they could get better accuracy out of point guard John Wall, who is taking a lot of shots but hitting only 36% of them. And for whatever reason, Drew Gooden, who was picked up off waivers not long ago, is getting meaningful playing time. He had one field goal in 26 minutes in Game 4. Maybe with Nene’s return, the Wizards can avoid having to use him.

Keep in mind that Washington is one of the league’s best teams as the visitor. They are 24-19 straight-up, but that tells only part of the story, as they have also put together a sizzling 28-15 mark against the NBA betting odds. So while Washington has to guard against complacency, Chicago knows that just being on the home floor means nothing in and of itself.

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