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Monday's Playoff Tips

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The Monday NBA card showcases two series going in different directions, as one road team and one home club seek a 3-1 series advantage. The Heat goes for a third straight victory over the Bulls, while the Grizzlies seek another home triumph against the Thunder. We'll begin in the Windy City as Miami and Chicago look to control their emotions in another high-intensity matchup.

Heat (-7 ½, 187) at Bulls - 7:00 PM EST - TNT

The defending champions overcame the physical (and sometimes mindless) play of Chicago in Game 3, as the Heat grabbed a 2-1 advantage with a 104-94 victory. Miami barely cashed as 8 ½-point favorites, needing several free throws down the stretch to capture its fifth cover in seven postseason contests.

LeBron James didn't shoot well from the floor, hitting just 6-of-17 shots, but finished with 25 points, while being on the receiving end of a nice shove from Chicago's Nazr Mohammed in the second quarter. Mohammed was ejected, as the Bulls' bench provided just eight points in the loss. Chris Bosh stepped up with a 20-point, 19-rebound effort, while Norris Cole continued to have a solid series off the bench by putting up 18 points, including 3-for-3 from long-distance.

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The Bulls haven't been able to figure out the Heat since a major upset in the series opener, getting outscored by 47 points in the last eight quarters. Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich are expected to be out again tonight after missing each of the previous four contests, while Derrick Rose isn't likely to return anytime soon. Chicago is actually sitting in an opportunistic spot tonight, as the Bulls own a 9-1 ATS record the last 10 games off a home loss dating back to early January.

Miami continues to be an ATS machine, cashing 15 of its last 19 games since having its 27-game winning streak snapped at the United Center on March 27. In this stretch, Erik Spoelstra's team has covered eight consecutive road contests, including four as a favorite of at least seven points. The Heat has not allowed over 94 points in a playoff game yet, but the Bulls are riding a 6-1 'over' run in the last seven contests.

Thunder at Grizzlies (-4 ½, 184 ½) - 9:30 PM EST - TNT

Oklahoma City is on the ropes right now, trailing 2-1, as the Thunder needs a strong punch to even up this series with the physical Grizzlies. Memphis is one bad fourth quarter away from being up 3-0 on the defending Western Conference champs, but the Grizzlies used a late 6-0 run to stave off OKC in Saturday's Game 3 triumph.

The Grizzlies topped the Thunder, 87-81, to barely cash as 5 ½-point favorites, while easily cashing the 'under' of 187 ½. Memphis overcame a poor offensive outing from Zach Randolph (8 points) thanks to his frontcourt mate Marc Gasol, who scored a team-high 20 points. Lionel Hollins' squad shot just 40% from the floor, but Memphis limited OKC to 36% shooting. The Thunder uncharacteristically missed seven free throws, including four misses from the normally-reliable Kevin Durant. The league's second-leading scorer put up 25 points, while Kevin Martin and Serge Ibaka combined to shoot just 12-of-34 from the field.

The series price has flipped dramatically after both teams were basically a pick-em to advance to the conference finals. Now, Memphis is listed at -310 to win this series, while OKC is +260 to win three of the next four games. If you have enough faith to believe the Thunder can reach the NBA Finals for the second straight season, the odds are favorable at 12/1 right now at Sportsbook.ag.

Since getting blown out by the Clippers in the opener of the first round, the Grizzlies have covered eight consecutive games, including all four contests at FedEx Forum. The Thunder have gone the opposite way since routing the Rockets in the playoff opener, while posting a 2-6 ATS record the last eight games. It's probably no coincidence that since Russell Westbrook's knee injury in Game 2 against Houston that the Thunder have had issues covering games.

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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