NBA Playoff Predictions
Odds - Analysis
Four NBA playoff series could all end on Tuesday night with two of the home teams up 3-1 and two of the road teams also up 3-1. But the oddsmakers have favored all of the home teams in Game 5 of their respective matchups, so they at least think there is a possibility that at least two of the series will be extended to a Game 6.
Three of the four games are in the Eastern Conference, including what may be the most intriguing one between the top-seeded Chicago Bulls and the eighth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers. The Bulls are no longer a threat to win the 2012 NBA title without two of their starters in point guard Derrick Rose and center Joakim Noah, who both suffered serious injuries earlier in the series. Rose tore the ACL in his left knee at the end of Game 1 while Noah has a severely sprained ankle from Game 3.
While Chicago's bench has been a strength for the past two years, the team's lack of star power has severely limited its potential and turned the 76ers into the favorites for the series. However, Philadelphia is a 5-point underdog in Game 5 at the United Center and might miss the home court after barely holding on to win the last two there. The Bulls are certainly capable of winning and sending the series back to Philly, but many experts also thought they would have an easy time in this round even without Rose. That simply has not been the case with the Sixers winning three straight after dropping Game 1.
The fifth-seeded Atlanta Hawks (-1) are the other home favorites looking to stave off elimination, and they are also dealing with injuries to a pair of starters. Forwards Josh Smith (knee) and Al Horford (chest) both returned to action for the Hawks in Game 4 on Sunday but saw the Hawks still get blown out by the fourth-seeded Boston Celtics, 101-79. Smith missed Game 3 while Horford was playing for the first time in nearly four months after tearing his pectoral muscle. Atlanta earned home-court advantage due to a better record despite being a lower seed and like Chicago could have the benefit of playing two of the next three at home if necessary.
The third Eastern Conference team that can advance to the next round on Tuesday at home is the third-seeded Indiana Pacers (-10.5) against the sixth-seeded Orlando Magic. In the Western Conference, the third-seeded Los Angeles Lakers (-6) can move on with a home victory against the sixth-seeded Denver Nuggets in the last Game 5 of the night.