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Wednesday Playoff Tips

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The underdogs have been rolling through the second round of the playoffs, covering all four opportunities through Monday. Both Miami and San Antonio failed to cash following long layoffs in each of their conference semifinal openers, but the Spurs managed to pull off one of the great comeback of all-time. We'll start in South Florida as the defending champions look to even up their series at one with their feisty rival.

Bulls at Heat (-12, 187) - 7:05 PM EST - TNT

Chicago continues to shock the world despite injuries to several key players as the Bulls tripped up the Heat, 93-86 to win outright as 13-point underdogs (+900 on money-line). Nate Robinson proved to be clutch once again in the absence of Derrick Rose, as the diminutive guard scored two crucial baskets in the final two minutes to give Chicago the lead for good. Heading into Game 2, are the Heat ready to shake off the rust or is this a sign of things to come?

Miami sat on the sidelines for seven days after sweeping Milwaukee in the opening round, while Chicago needed to fight for its playoff lives in a seven-game series victory over Brooklyn. Regular season MVP LeBron James scored a team-high 24 points, but the Heat was outscored by 15 points when he was on the court in Game 1. The keys to Chicago's success (besides holding Miami to 39% shooting) came from Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson, who combined to score 34 points. Past James and Dwyane Wade, not one other Heat player registered double-figures in the points column.

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The Heat opened up as a gigantic -2500 favorite to win the series, but that number has plummeted to -900 after the Game 1 defeat. Since the Big Three teamed up in 2010, Miami has lost the opening game of a playoff series twice, but each time, won the next four games (Chicago in '11 E.C. Finals and Oklahoma City in '12 NBA Finals). Erik Spoelstra's squad has covered five straight games off an ATS loss, while posting a 14-5 ATS record the last 19 games overall.

The Bulls will be without Luol Deng (illness) and Kirk Hinrich (calf) for Game 2, but hope to have at least one of those players return for Game 3 on Friday. Chicago has won five of its last six games off a road victory, while compiling a 4-2 ATS record the previous six road playoff contests.

Warriors at Spurs (-7 ½, 204 ½) - 9:35 PM EST - TNT

San Antonio was on the verge of being the second huge home favorite to get upset on Monday night. However, the Spurs didn't quit after falling behind by 16 points with four minutes remaining in regulation, pulling off an improbable 18-2 run to force overtime. Gregg Popovich's team needed two overtimes and a miracle from Manu Ginobili, as the battle-tested veteran drilled a three-pointer to give the Spurs a 129-127 triumph and a 1-0 series edge.

The Warriors managed a cover as nine-point underdogs, their seventh straight ATS win in the playoffs. Stephen Curry continues to prove he is an elite scorer in this league with a 44-point output in the series opener, while Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes each put up 19 points in the loss. Free-throw shooting turned into a problem for Golden State, converting just 14-of-24 attempts from the line. Ginobili hit just 1-of-8 from downtown prior to his game-winner, while the long-distance hero for the Spurs was Danny Green, who drilled 6-of-9 from three-point land.

Amazingly, the Warriors haven't won in San Antonio since 1997, a stretch of 30 consecutive defeats on the road. If Mark Jackson's club can pull off a win tonight, Games 3 and 4 are back at Oracle Arena, where the Warriors are 3-0 this postseason, while beating the Spurs twice at home.

Golden State's ATS hot streak stretches back to April 12, a run of 10 straight covers which began in a close road loss to the Lakers (yes, the Kobe Bryant Achilles' injury game). The last time the Warriors failed to cash as an away 'dog came on March 20, and you guessed it, it was at San Antonio. The Spurs suffered their first postseason ATS loss on Monday after cashing in all four games against the Lakers, while posting a 4-11 ATS record the last 15 contests at the AT&T Center.

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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