The Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets are in the same boat in the NBA playoffs. The Bulls and Rockets started the playoffs as No. 4 seeds, had potential to make serious runs, but then each lost two tough games at home to start the postseason. Yet Chicago and Houston finally shared a better fate on April 25, as they saved their season with their own road wins in respective Game 3's.
The Bulls spared themselves from a 3-0 hole to the Washington Wizards by salvaging a 100-97 win. Hours later, the Rockets finally finished their first win of the playoffs in a 121-116 overtime thriller with the Portland Trail Blazers. While Chicago and Houston couldn't win at home, the road was good for what ailed them, just as it had been for Washington and Portland.
The Bulls survived thanks to 35 points and eight three-pointers from Mike Dunleavy, while also benefiting from a big altercation. Wizards' star forward Nene got ejected in the fourth quarter for grabbing Jimmy Butler, yet Butler stayed and hit the decisive three-pointer with 24 seconds left. It could also cost Washington in Game 4 if Nene receives a suspension.
The Rockets got late heroics from beyond the arc in their Game 3 win, only from a far more unlikely source. After blowing another fourth quarter lead to the Blazers, the Rockets ended overtime on a 9-0 run, with the biggest three points coming from seldom used rookie Troy Daniels with 11.9 seconds left. The Blazers couldn't hit a three of their own after that, as James Harden then sealed it up by getting the last two of his 37 points from the free throw line.
Road teams have exceled in these NBA playoffs, yet these two series have taken the trend to extremes. Home teams are now 0-6 in these battles between No. 4 and No. 5 seeds, which does still bode well for the Wizards and Blazers. But if these two lose a second straight game at home, it might not be as easy for them to recover from two straight home losses, especially after blowing 2-0 series leads.
The Bulls and Rockets still came too close to an insurmountable 3-0 deficit, and can still fall into a daunting 3-1 hole if they lose their Game 4's on April 27. Yet at this point, recent history does favor them for the moment.