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Inside the Paint - Monday
The first round of the NBA Playoffs is in the books and while the first eight series offered up plenty of drama-filled action, it’s great to see the best teams advance and that’s usually what happens in a best-of-seven battle.

Personally, it’s one of the main reasons why I enjoy the Association so much because talent trumps everything in the long run.

With that being said, oddsmakers at believe the Heat are the most talented club left in the playoffs, making them a heavy 1/4 favorite (Bet $100 to win $25) to win the Eastern Conference and an 8/5 choice (Bet $100 to win $140) to three-peat and capture this year’s NBA Finals.

The other seven clubs chasing Miami are:

San Antonio 14/5
Oklahoma City 4/1
L.A. Clippers 7/1
Indiana 10/1
Portland 18/1
Brooklyn 20/1
Washington 30/1

Some pundits believe the Heat aren’t as good as last year’s championship squad or the group that captured the title in 2012 either. We’ll find that out soon enough but you can’t ignore the fact that the Heat were the only team to pull off a first round sweep. Perhaps it’s fair to say that everybody else is down too.

As the second round starts Monday, bookmakers and bettors have to be wondering if we’ll see the favorites bounce back. In the first round, underdogs went 34-15-1 against the spread and they won 22 of those 50 games straight up.

I believe things will balance out as the postseason continues since the point-spreads will be shorter and much easier to cover.

Let’s take a closer look at Monday’s battles.

Washington at Indiana (TNT, 7:05 p.m. ET)

The pair only met three times during the regular season and we’re probably being nice to label all three outcomes as ugly. Indiana captured 93-73 and 93-66 wins at home in late November and early January while Washington held serve in D.C. with a 91-78 victory at the end of March. All three games easily went ‘under’ the total, and coincidentally the number closed at 186 ½-points in each contest.

The Pacers were favored by 9 ½ and 10 points in their two home games and 1 ½-points in the road matchup. For Game 1, Indiana has been installed as a four-point home favorite, which shows you the perception on both clubs heading into this round. The total is hovering around 184 points.

When you handicap this matchup, it’s hard to ignore how bad the Pacers looked at times versus the Hawks and how good the Wizards played versus the Bulls.

Despite those facts, the playoffs are about matchups and Indiana’s Roy Hibbert should be more comfortable guarding the Wizards’ Nene and Marcin Gortat. And as athletic as John Wall and Bradley Beal are for Washington, the talented pair is still erratic and lacking big-game experience.

Washington hasn’t played since Tuesday and you could argue that the rust and not the rest will hurt the club just based on their tendencies. This season, the Wizards went 1-6 SU and 2-5 ATS on three days of rest or more.

Indiana went 35-6 SU and 21-19-1 ATS during the regular season at home. In the first round, the club went 2-2 both SU and ATS versus Atlanta.

What’s impressive about Washington is its play on the road, which led to a 22-19 SU and 26-15 ATS mark this season. Even more impressive, the Wizards winning and covering all three road games against the Bulls in the first round.

The Pacers have been installed as minus-175 favorites (Bet $100 to win $57) to win the series while the Wizards can be taken at plus-155 (Bet $100 to win $155) odds.

Game 2 will be played Wednesday from Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

L.A. Clippers at Oklahoma City (TNT, 9:35 p.m. ET)

The Clippers and Thunder both advanced to the second round on Saturday as they captured Game 7 victories on Saturday at home.

After dealing with last week’s Donald Sterling fallout and eventually getting past it, handicapper Antony Dinero believes those off the court issues will catch up to L.A. sooner or later.

He said, “The Clippers have to move quickly to put last week's mentally taxing events behind them in order to concentrate on the task at hand. The challenge of competing at OKC is made all the more difficult by injuries L.A. carries into the series, making it extremely difficult to survive this short turnaround. The Thunder played Saturday night, too, but didn't have to travel and have a much healthier team entering Game 1 of these Western Conference semifinals.”

Clippers point guard Chris Paul is still dealing with a hamstring and thumb injuries and Memphis saw what happened when it didn’t have a healthy Mike Conley against Memphis in Game 7. The Thunder’s Russell Westbrook had a triple-double in less than 40 minutes.

In the four regular season battles, Oklahoma City and Los Angeles each won two games, including one a piece on the road. The Thunder gave 5 ½-points in both home affairs while the Clippers were listed as 3 ½ and 4 ½-point favorites in the two meetings from the Staples Center.

The oddsmakers have stayed consistent with their ratings on this pair, listing Oklahoma City as a 5 ½-point favorite for Game 1.

The total went 2-2 during the regular season and the numbers ranged from 209 ½ up to 212. For Game 1, an opener of 209 was sent out which quickly bounced up to 212.

The Clippers went 23-18 SU and 25-15-1 ATS on the road during the regular season but was just 1-2 in the three games played against the Warriors from the Bay Area.

Oklahoma City was 34-7 SU and 20-21 ATS at home during the season. The Thunder were 2-2 both SU and ATS at home versus the Grizzlies in the first round.

OKC has been listed as a minus-185 series favorite while Los Angeles is a plus-160 underdog.

The pair will meet against on Wednesday from Chesapeake Energy Arena in Game 2.

Chris David can be reached at

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