Monday Night NBA Picks - The Dogs May Be Barking

The Bucks and Heat open what should be an entertaining Eastern Conference semi-finals series while the Rockets look to eliminate the Thunder in NBA playoff action Monday night. How are we playing these games with our free NBA picks?

Bucks -5.5/223 vs. Heat, 6:30 pm ET, TNT

Miami was one of just three teams to win its regular-season series with Milwaukee this year. Now the teams meet up in a best-of-seven Eastern Conference semi-finals series starting Monday night.

The Heat just swept Indiana out of the first round of these playoffs, finishing that series off with a 99-87 victory last Monday. Now, with days off both earned and unexpected, this will be Miami's first action in seven days.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee just dispatched of Orlando in five games in the first round, finishing that series off with a 118-104 decision Saturday. So the Bucks are playing on five days less rest than the Heat, although that could play to their advantage.

Milwaukee finished 12 games ahead of Miami in the final regular-season standings, 56-17 to 44-29, but the Heat took the season series from the Bucks two games to one. And Miami had a chance to sweep Milwaukee, leading the most recent meeting, early this month, by 23 points in the second quarter. But the Bucks roared back in the second half and used a 20-0 run late in the game to secure a 130-116 victory and cover as a 9.5-point favorite.

Free NBA Pick: Miami took care of business in the first round against Indiana. Meanwhile, Milwaukee can be a little flighty, like when it forgot how to play defense in Game 1 of its series against Orlando. Plus, the Heat already owns a couple wins over the Bucks this season. We like Miami and the points here.

Rockets -5.5/226 vs. Thunder, 9 pm ET, TNT

Houston leads this series three games to two after romping in Game 5 Saturday 114-80. The Rockets, with Russell Westbrook back on the floor, only led by three points at the half Saturday, then used a 19-2 run out of the locker room to take control, on their way toward the win and the easy cover as five-point favorites.

Houston only shot 43 percent from the floor Saturday, but OKC shot just 32 percent and a miserable 7/46 from 3-point land.

These teams have now split eight meetings this season SU, although the Thunder are 5-3 ATS.

Even with the loss Saturday, the underdog is 3-2 both SU and ATS in this series.

So far, in these playoffs, the favorites are 30-10 SU, 20-19-1 ATS.

Free NBA Pick: We're 2-3 ATS picking this series, going with Oklahoma City all five games, in part because the Thunder have been the underdogs four times. And now Houston has Westbrook back. But we gotta believe OKC will shoot the ball at least a little better than it did Saturday, and the line on this game is the biggest of the series. They may not win this one outright, but we're sticking with the Thunder plus the points.