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Bulls-Nets, Game 7

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The first Game 7 to take place in the postseason happens at the Barclays Center on Saturday night. The Bulls were cruising along by owning a 3-1 series advantage after rallying past the Nets in last Saturday's epic Game 4 triple-overtime triumph. One week later, Brooklyn is ready to throw the knock-out punch after grabbing the previous two games to even things up at 3-3.

The Bulls are playing at a sick pace, literally. Luol Deng sat out Thursday's 95-92 home setback as one-point underdogs with symptoms of meningitis, one of several Chicago players that were under the weather. Nate Robinson wasn't 100% either, as the Bulls' electric guard scored 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting, while Marco Belinelli unexpectedly led Chicago with 22 points in place of the injured Kirk Hinrich. Deng didn't make the trip to Brooklyn, while Hinrich tries to return for Game 7 after missing two games with a calf injury.

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The Nets scorched the Bulls' defense in the opening half of Game 6 by dropping 60 points. However, Brooklyn's offense slowed up in the final 24 minutes by scoring only 35 points, while the Bulls had a late opportunity to tie the game with a three-pointer in the waning seconds. 'Over' bettors had to sweat out the final minutes after a 114-point first half on a 183 ½ total. The two teams combined to score just 32 points in the third quarter, while the 'over' cashed with 25 seconds remaining on a Nazr Mohammed layup.

Now, the page turns to Saturday's pivotal Game 7, just the second for the Nets since their move from the ABA in 1976. The Nets dropped their only Game 7 appearance to the Pistons in the 2004 Eastern Conference semifinals, ending New Jersey's two-year run as conference champions.

The Bulls are playing in their 10th Game 7, with four of these decisive contests coming prior to 1989. The last time Chicago faced this situation, the Bulls lost in the opening round at Boston in 2009, but Derrick Rose was in the lineup. The former MVP has yet to suit up for a game this season following an ACL tear in the playoff opener last April, while his status is doubtful for Saturday's Game 7.

Last postseason, four Game 7's took place, as the home team won three times. In the first round, the Lakers held off the Nuggets at Staples Center, while the Clippers were the lone road team to capture a victory at Memphis. The Celtics were on both sides of the Game 7 drama by beating the 76ers in the second round, but Boston was bounced in the conference finals at Miami. Since 2010, favorites have covered five of seven times in the decisive Game 7.

The Bulls own a solid 15-2 SU record off a home loss this season, including a perfect 5-0 SU/ATS record in the underdog role. The Nets have won six of nine home games off a road victory this season, but one of those losses came to the Bulls in early April as a 5 ½-point favorite. However, Brooklyn returned to the Barclays Center playing with no rest coming off an eight-game road trip.

Brooklyn is listed as 6 ½-point favorites, but that number is slowly moving up to seven at some books. The total is set at 181 ½, as the game can be seen nationally on TNT at 8:05 PM EST.

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at rogers@vegasinsider.com

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

  
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