After a competitive Game 1 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Chicago Bulls were -3,334 to lose the seven-game series at PointsBet Sportsbook.
What a difference a day makes. After the Bulls pulled off an upset in Game 2, the defending champions are now just -286 to win the series.
The first number represents a 97% probability, while the second represents a 74% probability. Game 3 is set for Friday night in Chicago, and you can expect the United Center to be rocking. Chicago is a consensus 2.5-point underdog, and you can bet on the Bulls at Illinois online sportsbooks like PointsBet.
While Bulls fans are likely thrilled to see how much the series price has shifted, a natural question is: Why? It was just one game, after all, and one would still expect the Bucks to be massive favorites in what’s effectively now a five-game series.
Here are a few key reasons.
Khris Middleton is out for the series
Middleton, the Bucks’ second-best player, suffered an MCL sprain in the Game 2 loss. He will miss the remainder of the series.
While Middleton didn’t play great in the first two games, it’s a significant loss. It would be akin to the Bulls losing Zach LaVine or Nikola Vucevic.
Middleton isn’t without flaws, but this will test Milwaukee’s depth. And the Bucks’ depth isn’t necessarily their strength.
The Middleton minutes will likely go to a combination of Grayson Allen (yes, Bulls fans will have plenty of chances to boo him this weekend) and Pat Connaughton. Allen and Connaughton are solid rotation players, but they combined to score nine points in the first two games of the series.
So yes, each is a significant downgrade from Middleton.
The Bulls no longer appear to be broken!
It’s hard to adequately describe just how bad the Bulls were against good teams in the latter part of the season.
The Bulls were 3-21 against Playoff teams on the year. In April alone they lost to the Bucks, Celtics and Heat by an average of 20.7 points. Milwaukee swept Chicago in the season series, and only one of the games was competitive.
While the Bulls may not have as much talent as those teams, one would have to think that there was a mental hurdle to overcome when playing against the NBA’s best. It doesn’t get much more difficult than playing the defending champions on the road in the Playoffs.
And yet the Bulls are coming back tied, and they easily could have won Game 1. Milwaukee may still have a talent edge, but the fear factor is gone.
Chicago is much, much better at home
The Bulls were 19-22 on the road and 27-14 at home this season. In other words, they were below average away from the United Center and very good in front of the home crowd.
In fact, the Bulls were three games better at home than the Bucks were on the road this season. Three of the possible five games left will be in Chicago.
All of this said, it would still be tough to bet against Giannis Antetokounmpo. He’s arguably the best player in the world, and while the Bulls have put forth an inspired effort thus far, that’s going to be really hard to sustain over a seven-game series.
But it’s not impossible. And going into the series, ‘impossible’ seemed like the best word to describe the Bulls’ chances.