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Monday NBA picks
The San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat appear to be on a collision course, which would be high drama for LeBron, who lost his first ever Finals appearance against Duncan and Parker. To get there, the Heat will have to dispatch the Chicago Bulls which almost seems automatic at this point. The Spurs face the suddenly terrifying Golden State Warriors in a series that is – quite frankly - impossible to predict.

Check out CarbonSports exact series prices to swing big with a flier bet that could turn in to serious profit. These second round matchups are very tough to call so you’re going to have to pay close attention in every game. That shouldn’t be a problem because these are going to be very intriguing games to say the least.

MIAMI HEAT -11.5 over Chicago Bulls
Monday, May 6th --- 7pm EST

We can hype this matchup as a rivalry, but without Derrick Rose this isn’t a truly competitive series. There is reason to believe that the hopeful Bulls can give the Heat a serious run for their (and your) money, especially after they tied the regular season matchups 2-2 SU and ATS. However, the Miami Heat are looking to make statements and they’re going to make an emphatic one during this week.

It all starts on Monday when the Heat host the Bulls after afull week of rest following their handy sweep of the Milwaukee Bucks. I wrote that the Bucks might be good for one win that series, but Miami was going to close them out with vigor eventually. They went 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS in that series and those are trends I expect to continue.

The Bulls played Brooklyn extremely well, but the so-called Big Three for the Nets is nothing compared to the vaunted trio in South Beach. The Bulls don’t have a wholly reliable offence, and though they averaged 116.0 points per game in their opening series, they actually scored an average of about 90.0 points because the numbers get skewed with Game 4’s 142-134 result that came with 3 overtimes.

The health of key guards, Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich, seem like pivotal “wait and see” elements in this matchup and they are. Regardless, neither are healthy and that’s the real baseline for tracking these two. Deng is dealing with an undisclosed illness while Hinrich still has a bad calf.They won’t be able to be as effective as Bulls fans hope.

That opens the door for Dwyane Wade and LeBron James to dominate this game from the start. Chicago has major defensive gaps with Hinrich and Deng out of the lineup, and even if they’re able to play they won’t be able to slow down the Heat. LeBron James averaged 24.5 points while sleep walking against Milwaukee in the opening round and also averaged 28.0 points when playing Chicago this season. He loves stepping up against these guys.

Where Chicago has a glimmer of hope is in the post where Boozer and Noah bailed them out of a near-loss to Brooklyn in Game 7. However, I don’t think that the Bulls’ frontcourt combo will be enough to cover the margin here. The Bulls will need at least one game to see what speed Miami plays at, and while they’re left coughing up dust, the Heat will send a message that they aren’t taking this series lightly.

Miami has been a solid play through the last few weeks of the season, and are even better in the playoffs where the Eastern Conference lacks a real contender for the reigning champs. The Heat are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games overall and 10-3 ATS in their last 13 games following 3 days of rest or more. They’re also a convincing 5-2 ATS in their last 7 home games.

After Game 1, I’m frankly concerned that the hobbled Bulls won’t be able to overcome the disparity of talent through the series, which is why I’m taking the Heat in 5 games overall.

Game 1 Pick – Miami -11.5 (UNDER)

Exact Games Pick – Miami in 5 Games

Golden State Warriors +8.5 over SAN ANTONIO SPURS
Monday, May 6th --- 9:30pm EST

Here’s the main problem with this series: we don’t actually know how good the San Antonio Spurs are after their joke of a series against the dysfunctional Lakers. Popovich’s crew looked great and are obviously 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games but they’re also a suspicious 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games. I think the oddsmakers overvalue San Antonio and people drink the kool-aid a little too often when it comes to this team.

What I do know is that the Golden State Warriors absolutely believe in themselves. They’re a suddenly scary, surging upstart that plays tough and scores tons of points. Golden State scored a resounding 107.2 points per game against Denver, which was a good defensive unit through the regular season. All of this is shocking given David Lee’s absence, but it’s obvious that Andrew Bogut is out to reassert himself as a dominant big man. There’s no bigger test than a frontcourt anchored by Tim Duncan.

The line, though slightly high, is still justifiable. Duncan has played at a prodigal level this entire season. He averaged 22.7 points against Golden State this season and has played such good defense that he was a fringe contender for Defensive Player of the Year. I think that the frontcourt scoring of San Antonio is a big asset in this series.

But the honest difference maker is Tony Parker who can not only answer the scoring onslaught of Curry, he’s a superb and quick defender who can hound the point man for Golden State for this entire series. Parker had highs of 28 and 23 against Los Angeles, and put up 21.5 points per game in 2 matchups against Golden State this year.

I haven’t even talked about Manu Ginobli, who continues to rest his weary body so that he’s ready to be unleashed when required. His hamstring has had plenty of time to recover, and there were flashes of his old self in the series against Los Angeles. But that nagging hammy still worries me.

On paper, the Spurs are the cake walk play but I’m willing to ride the wave with Golden State and their young band of rebels. They’re 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games on the road, 16-5 ATS in their last 21 games and 5-0 ATS when playing following a straight up win.

It’s hard to really put faith in Golden State because the pieces you’re inevitably relying on are relatively unknown commodities, especially when matched up against a playoff mainstay like San Antonio. Is Bogut going to ignite the Warriors against Duncan? Can Curry continue to score at surreal levels with Tony Parker in his face? Are Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson able to play at consistently high levels?

I don’t know. Denver was no slouch, and San Antonio is a looming giant that could awaken if pushed against the wall. I think that the Warriors are definitely worth standing behind for now and I’m even willing to back them in the long run of the series. They’re playing with a confidence and swagger that San Antonio may not be able to stop. In the playoffs, you back momentum and the Warriors have it. There’s no telling how good San Antonio is. They haven’t been tested yet.

This series is going to be fun. Golden State has not only played impeccably on offence, they have gotten the job done defensively and have come together without Lee in the fold. I’m not willing to fall asleep on the rampant scoring of these Warriors just yet, and while veteran experience will play a big factor in this second round matchup, Mark Jackson is the kind of motivator that can coach his young team up and prepare them mentally for the challenge.

San Antonio is the smarter, more conservative play as -8.5 favorites. They’re more likely to close the door on the Warriors in 6 games (+400 odds). But I’m just not willing to believe that the outburst from Golden State in round one was an aberration.

Not yet, anyways.

Game 1 Pick – Golden State +8.5

Exact Games Pick – Golden State in 7 Games (+1800)

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