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NBA expert Eytan Shander is back with picks for both of Monday's NBA playoff games

Two games to represent two different series tip off today. We have the Bucks and Heat opening up their long anticipated second round matchup, as both cruised here and should be relatively healthy. We also have a Thunder team fighting for their lives, after looking absolutely lost in game 5 against the Rockets. Russ Westbrook returned as did hopes the Rockets could push on to the next round. Let’s find some value!

Miami Heat vs. Milwaukee Bucks

BET: Heat vs. Bucks Over 223 @ -107

Miami is one of the few teams in the league to have found success this season against the Bucks. They held Giannis to an unbelieveable low of points and rebounds in the game that Jimmy Butler played – outside of the bubble – and there is some expectation the Heat can do it again. Miami returns both a healthy Butler and Goran Dragic to battle Milwaukee today. Something that actually helps the team on offense more than anything. These two teams love to shoot 3’s, top 10 in 3PM all season. The Bucks even more so than the Heat when you look at the numbers, something that should help fuel this over.

One of these teams is going to hit 130 points and all you need from the other squad is some late game firing off behind the arc. Miami boasts a ton of shooters and with Bam up front can push the Bucks on the glass. Even in a Bucks blowout, the more likely of scenarios to play out, Miami has enough shooters to continue to get late buckets. Butler and Dragic should account for 40+ alone; add any secondary help for Giannis and you have a comfortable number that hits the over!

Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

BET: Rockets -5.5 @ -110

BET: Rockets vs. Thunder Under 225 @ -106

No real shock here as the Thunder are coming off one of their worst defeats in franchise history, especially one that saw a major shift in momentum back to the Rockets. Houston didn’t need any major explosion out of either Westbrook or James Harden – 31 was enough for Harden – as they blew the Thunder out of the gym. Robert Covington knocked down 6 3-pointers and did a masterful job on defense against OKC. In fact, everyone on Houston did well as the Thunder struggled their way to 80 points. Their starting 5 was a disgrace to offense and I’m not quite sure how they bounce back. Houston can get up pretty big, as they should again here, with consistent runs behind 3’s, while the Thunder are going to get caught watching again. Just the dynamic of Westbrook - combined with the already suffocating ability for Houston to shoot from the outside - was way too much for OKC. It’s becoming clearer they were able to take advantage of a couple of cold halves from Houston more so than anything else in this series. The Rockets woke up in game 5 and should pound the Thunder once again. The line is pretty low with the expectations someone on OKC can right the ship, unfortunately this is where their season ends.

This is also where the total comes into play especially on the Thunder’s side. It’s going to be harder for them to hit 110 than it will be to match that sad 80 they put up last game. A couple of more made shots here and there should bump them up in the mid 90’s, but Houston should be up enough to start pulling guys in the fourth. We’ve seen it already in some closeouts and tonight should be no exception. A couple of big runs by the Rockets is enough to close this thing out, be it the series or the total going under. I was tempted to take OKC in the first quarter and half, but I simply can’t trust their inability to make shots last game, something that is much easier to transfer over tonight. Houston has been able to bounce back from a bad quarter or two, effectively lighting up the board against OKC. The Thunder have way too much work in front of them to push this thing over 225. If anything, expect another blowout where Houston does the majority – if not all – of the heavy lifting!


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