After clinching first place in the Eastern Conference with Wednesday’s 112-94 win over the Milwaukee Bucks as 13.5-point home favorites, the Boston Celtics enter Game 1 of their first-round series with the Chicago Bulls as 8-point home favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
Boston posted straight-up victories in its final three regular-season outings to edge out the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors by two games in the standings. The C’s head into Sunday’s Bulls vs. Celtics betting matchup at TD Garden as the top seed in the East for the first time since winning the NBA championship in 2008.
The Celtics went 12-4 SU in their final 16 games but struggled all season to pay out at the sportsbooks, failing to cover in consecutive games during their current 3-7 against the spread run and recording a 17-24 ATS record on their home court. Boston also lags on the championship odds at +1600, well back of the Golden State Warriors, who lead the way at a narrow -160.
The Bulls return to the NBA playoffs following a one-year absence after winning SU in 10 of their final 14 contests, including lopsided wins in their final two outings. Chicago pounded the Orlando Magic 122-75 as an 8-point home favorite Monday and followed that up with a 112-73 rout of the Brooklyn Nets as 14.5-point home chalk in its regular-season finale to claim the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference.
Unlike Boston, the Bulls have regularly paid out at the sportsbooks, going 11-5 ATS down the stretch, and have held opponents to just 89 points per game over their past five games, producing five straight wins for the UNDER in totals betting, according to the OddsShark NBA Database.
Chicago has enjoyed little success in the postseason in recent years, failing to get past the first round in four of its past seven playoff appearances. However, the Bulls have produced a respectable 7-7 SU record in their past 14 playoff road games, and have covered in six of their last 10 playoff games when pegged as underdogs of eight or more points.
These two teams split four games during the regular season, with the home team emerging victorious SU in each. The Celtics have taken four straight from Chicago at TD Garden, both SU and ATS, to end a three-game slide, and largely have dominated the Bulls in four all-time playoff series matchups.
Boston swept the Bulls in three playoff series during the 1980s, but the C’s needed seven games and a pair of road victories to top Chicago in the first round of the 2009 NBA playoffs while covering just once on their home court.
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