Chicago Bulls vs. Miami Heat (-11.5, 186)
LeBron James was named Most Valuable Player on Sunday and the Miami Heat
get back to playing basketball on Monday when they open the Eastern
Conference semifinals against the visiting Chicago Bulls. Miami hasn’t
played since finishing a four-game, first-round sweep of the Milwaukee
Bucks on April 28. Chicago completed its seven-game series win over the
Brooklyn Nets on Saturday. The Bulls will likely be without forward Luol
Deng (illness) while point guard Kirk Hinrich is a game-time decision.
used a gritty Game 7 effort against Brooklyn to reach the conference
semifinals with center Joakim Noah leading the way with 24 points, 14
rebounds and six blocked shots. The Bulls are thriving without guard
Derrick Rose, who mysteriously continues to sit out with a knee injury
nearly two months after he was medically cleared to play. James had a
superb campaign in winning his fourth MVP award. The Miami forward
averaged 26.8 points, eight rebounds and 7.3 assists while helping the
Heat to a league-best 66-16 mark. The only other players to win four or
more MVPs are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six), Michael Jordan (five), Bill
Russell (five) and Wilt Chamberlain (four).
TV: 7 p.m. ET, TNT
ABOUT THE BULLS:
Deng missed the final two games of the Brooklyn series after a spinal
tap caused serious complications. The spinal tap was performed to see if
Deng had contracted meningitis – results were negative – but the
procedure caused severe headaches and other issues that required Deng to
be hospitalized. His return date remains uncertain. Hinrich (calf)
missed the final three games of the series against the Nets and Nate
Robinson will again be in the starting lineup if Hinrich can’t play.
Guard Marco Belinelli will have a solid role in the series after scoring
24 points in the Game 7 victory and 22 points the previous outing.
ABOUT THE HEAT:
James and his teammates are well-rested after the extended break – one
that should help guard Dwyane Wade’s balky right knee. Wade recently
returned to practice and is expected to be in the starting lineup for
the opener. Wade told reporters on Sunday he’s more concerned about his
level of conditioning than the knee. “When you go out for a while, your
wind is the first thing to go and your legs get heavy,” Wade said. “So
it’s just about getting them under you early on and just getting into
the game.” The Heat won all four games of the Milwaukee series by double
* Heat are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games.
* Bulls are 1-8 ATS in their last nine games following a SU win.
* Over is 7-1 in Bulls last eight games playing on one day rest.
* Home team is 5-2 in the last seven meetings.
1. The teams split four
regular-season meetings, including a Chicago victory on March 27 that
ended Miami’s 27-game winning streak.
2. The two teams met in the 2011 Eastern Conference finals with Miami winning the series in five games.
3. Chicago is 7-23 all-time when playing a postseason Game 1 on the road.
Golden State Warriors vs. San Antonio Spurs (-8.5, 201)
The Golden State Warriors were longshots to make the Western Conference
semifinals as the No. 6 seed. After dispatching the Denver Nuggets in
six games, the Warriors will be staring at even slimmer odds when they
open a seven-game series at the second-seeded San Antonio Spurs on
Monday. Golden State has not won in San Antonio since 1997, and the
Spurs looked dominant in cruising past the Los Angeles Lakers in four
The Warriors lost David Lee to a torn hip flexor in a Game
1 loss against the Nuggets but leaned on Stephen Curry the rest of the
way. Curry will need to have another big series against San Antonio,
which held the Lakers to an average of 85.3 points in a four-game sweep.
The Spurs have been sitting around waiting for the rest of the Western
Conference to finish up the first round since April 28, giving Manu
Ginobili an extra eight days to rest his tender hamstring and Tiago
Splitter the same time to recover from an ankle sprain.
TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, TNT
ABOUT THE WARRIORS:
Andrew Bogut had his best game in a Golden State uniform with 14
points, 21 rebounds and four blocks in the decisive Game 6 against the
Nuggets and will be counted on even more against Tim Duncan and a bigger
San Antonio front line. The Warriors got plenty of open looks on the
perimeter for the likes of Harrison Barnes, Jarrett Jack, Draymond Green
and Klay Thompson in the first round and will continue to run to the
3-point line on the break and off the pick-and-roll. Golden State will
go as far as Curry can take the team, and the star guard has had a few
extra days to rest his ailing left ankle since the series with the
Nuggets ended on Thursday. Curry rolled the ankle in Game 2 and was the
target of some physical play the rest of the series but never stopped
draining big second-half jumpers. He did his most damage in the third
quarter of the Warriors’ wins and was a key during the decisive run in
Game 6. Now all Golden State needs to do is get over the mental hurdle
of a near-breakdown at the end of Game 6, when a slew of turnovers and
missed shots allowed the Nuggets to creep back into the game.
ABOUT THE SPURS:
San Antonio sputtered down the stretch in the regular season, with
Ginobili and Tony Parker missing time, but had no trouble with the
beat-up Los Angeles Lakers in the first round. The Spurs swept that
series by an average of 18.8 points and have an offense that can get out
and run with the Warriors and even challenge them on the perimeter with
3-point shooters Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Matt Bonner and Gary Neal.
San Antonio is also capable of playing stifling defense, as the Lakers
learned in the first round. “This is a good start for us,” Duncan said
after the Game 4 win over Los Angeles. “We like the pace we’re at now.
We like the rhythm we’re at right now and how healthy we are right now.
Hopefully it can stay that way.”
* Warriors are 5-0 ATS in their last five road games.
* Warriors are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 games against the Western Conference.
* Spurs are 4-0 in their last four games overall.
* Under is 4-1 in last five meetings in San Antonio.
* Over is 4-1 in Spurs' last five games at home.
Lee made an emotional one-minute return to the lineup in Game 6 and will
be available off the bench against the Spurs, though not likely for
2. Parker averaged 22.3 points and 6.5 assists
in the first round despite not playing more than 27 minutes in the final
3. The teams split four games in the regular season but San Antonio has taken 17 of the last 19 meetings.