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Bet on the NBAThis was going to be the year. After their meltdown in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011, the Chicago Bulls had come into the lockout-shortened season on a mission to unseat the Heat and make their first trip to the NBA Finals since a guy named Michael Jordan led them there six times in eight years.

But the basketball gods are cruel. What they give with one hand, they take away with the other, and this Bulls season was marked by injuries throughout the 66-game schedule. Despite missing a combined 98 games, though, by the time the playoffs began, Chicago basketball fans were starting to hope again as they saw Derrick Rose, Rip Hamilton, and Joakim Noah take the court together, as healthy as they had been all season.

Late in that first game against the 76ers, the Bulls' title hopes crashed to the ground as every fan in the United Center went silent. Rose was clutching his knee on the floor and had to be helped off the court. The worst had happened: a season-ending ACL tear had derailed both Rose and Chicago's postseason hopes.

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Injuries continued throughout the rest of the series and the Philadelphia 76ers came out healthy and eliminated the Bulls in 6 games. Noah sprained his ankle in Game 3 and was out for the rest of the playoffs, Taj Gibson sprained his ankle in Game 5 in Chicago and was clearly hobbled. Add in an already-injured Luol Deng, and the most merciful outcome for the Bulls was to get out of the life-threatening postseason as quickly as possible.

A bad decision on the part of backup point guard CJ Watson to pass the ball in the final seconds of Game 6 to an open Omer Asik led to a hard foul on the center and two missed free throws. Philly made their free throws on the other end, and the Bulls walked off the court losers after being up by 3 points just a few seconds before.

The Bulls organization has a lot of hard decisions to make this summer as both Rose and Deng are expected to miss time at the beginning of next year as they recover from their surgeries. In the meantime, the 76ers move on to face the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, and you can click here to see our second round NBA playoffs betting previews.


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