NBA picks, best bets: Follow the under in Bucks vs. Heat; don’t expect for LeBron James to hit his point total
Now that we’re in the thick of the NBA playoffs, the basketball betting market is hotter than ever. CBS Sports will be providing daily picks for the duration of the postseason. Sam Quinn will make at least one pick for every game between now and the NBA Finals. All lines courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.
There are a lot of viable angles to take as a Joel Embiid-less 76ers team attempts to complete a sweep of the Nets on Saturday. The entire complexion of this series changed the moment Embiid got hurt. Brooklyn’s entire defense was based on forcing the ball out of Embiid’s hands, so if you have any sort of hunch on where they’ll redirect that defensive energy, bet it. Here’s a simpler thought: Embiid has pulled in roughly 37% of Philadelphia’s rebounds over the past two games (29 out of 79). Those rebounds have to go somewhere. P.J. Tucker has pulled in at least seven rebounds in every game of this series. He’ll likely have to play some center minutes without Embiid, and the line suggests his total is going to go down, not up. Take advantage of that opportunity. The Pick: Tucker Over 5.5 Rebounds
Norman Powell has played in 76 playoff games in his career. How many times do you think he’s scored at least 27 points? Whatever number you’re thinking of, cut it in half. The answer is three. Yes, Powell scored a remarkable 42 points in Game 3 of this series. That is not the norm. His numbers do tend to go up significantly when one of the Clippers stars are out. This season, he’s at around 20 points per game with Paul George out, for instance. But he needed to make seven 3-pointers against an unprepared defense in his 42-point masterpiece. The Suns will be ready in Game 4. This line is an overreaction to the game Powell just had. The Pick: Powell Under 26.5 Points
I picked the under in Game 2. I was burned by the greatest 3-point shooting performance in playoff history. Milwaukee made 25 of its 45 3-point attempts. The Heat made 16 3-pointers themselves, something they did in around a quarter of their games this regular season, so still a relative rarity. Otherwise? All signs point to a defensive struggle. Giannis Antetokounmpo is banged up. Tyler Herro is out. The Heat ranked 23rd in half-court offense during the regular season. Milwaukee’s half-court problems in the postseason are well-known. Both the Heat and Bucks were top-seven half-court defenses in the regular season. Don’t let one game scare you off. Defense will still rule this matchup. The Pick: Under 220.5
Dillon Brooks is doing everything in his power to bait LeBron James into playing hero ball. If James can deal with Lance Stephenson blowing into his ear, he can handle some inflammatory quotes from Brooks. James doesn’t need to drop 40 on Brooks to beat him. If he did, the Lakers would be in a pretty precarious position. After all, James has reached his projected total of 28.5 points in just one playoff game in the past three seasons. He doesn’t need to play for volume when he’s shooting over 61% from the floor with Brooks as his primary defender. James will continue to make the best possible basketball play, and fans expecting James to try to show up Brooks will be disappointed on Saturday. The Pick: James Under 28.5 Points