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Monday's NBA Playoff Action

Three games are on the card in the NBA playoffs tonight as we’ve got two home teams looking to stave off elimination (Brooklyn, Houston) and the other (Atlanta) hoping to even up their series at two games apiece. Here’s a look at what I like on tonight’s board:

Chicago (+5.5) vs. Brooklyn (-5.5); Total set at 180

After Saturday’s triple-OT instant classic, it’s not surprising to see many bettors to think that points will be scored at a break-neck pace. Even without the extra time in Game 3, these two had put up 222 points, easily cashing tickets on ‘over’ the total of 176.5. But a 63-minute game like that can have some large lingering effects the next time out, especially when a travel day is involved.

Brooklyn has got to be disgusted with how they played in that 4th quarter in letting their big lead escape and now have to fight for their lives. Allowing 111 points to Chicago in regulation – one of the worst offenses teams in the league – is utterly embarrassing and the Nets should have renewed focus on defense tonight. On the other side, Chicago can’t be too happy with their defense from Game 3 in allowing 111 points in 48 minutes and will solidify their defense as well.

After that great Game 3, it’s tough to remember that these two played some very dry, boring, low-scoring games in the previous two and prefer to play that style. Chicago won Game 2 by a 90-82 score and took Game 3 79-76; both well below tonight’s total. Add in the extreme fatigue and tired legs from all the extra basketball on Saturday and I believe we see another offensive clunker. Tired legs equates to jump shots being left short because players don’t have the lift to get into good shooting form so don’t be surprised to see many bricks tonight.

Take the under.

Oklahoma City (-1) vs. Houston (+1); Total set at 206

Bettors jumped all over the Rockets in Game 3 after the Russell Westbrook news and it turned out to be the wrong side. Houston was blown out in the first half and after expending so much energy to get back into the game late, they crumbled down the stretch as Kevin Durant took over.

The Thunder are now one win away from moving on to the next round and knowing that no team has ever come back from a 0-3 hole in NBA history, they’ve got to like their chances. But there is still plenty of room for improvement as they continue to learn how to play without Westbrook. Westbrook had never missed a game in his NBA career prior to Game 3, so it will definitely be a bit of a learning process for the Thunder the next few times out.

OKC also knows they will get Houston’s best punch right out of the gate as the Rockets aim to extend the series. That means that Houston will play to their strengths; ultra-fast and scoring in the open floor. They love to run and have games in the 110+ range and they’ve yet to top 102 in this series. With their life on the line, Houston’s outside shooters will do a much better job from beyond the arc (32% in Game 3) and force OKC to run with them.

The Thunder won’t mind getting out and playing that pace even with their second-best scorer on the shelf. They have topped the century mark in all three of their wins in this series and should do so again tonight. Durant’s supporting cast needs to step up and knock down a few more shots and with the possibility of extensive rest on the line, I think guys like Kevin Martin and Sefolosha (4-for-18 combined in Game 3) get the job done. Whether it’s enough to sweep a hungry Rockets team on their own floor I don’t know, but for the first time in this series, I expect to see ‘over’ bettors cash a ticket.

Take over 206.

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