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.
I’m inclined to treat home-court advantage as a relatively minor factor in this game. Boston’s regular-season road record (25-16) was nearly identical to Miami’s home record (27-14), and the Celtics have a far better road record this postseason (4-2) than home record (4-5). The far likelier swing factor is 3-point shooting. Yes, Miami has been making 3’s ever since the play-in round began, but the Heat are shooting nearly 13 percentage points better on 3’s in this series than the Celtics. Boston ranked sixth in the NBA in regular-season 3-point percentage while Miami ranked 27th. Typically, shooting variance is responsible when road teams take 2-0 leads over a higher seed (the 2021 Mavericks-Clippers series was of that). With Boston’s back against the wall, I’m comfortable giving up a few points on the road for the sake of expected regression. The Pick: Celtics -3.5
I’m conceding defeat on my plan to pick the under for every game of this series after Game 2 came in half of a point above the line. Miami has avoided 3-point regression all postseason, but if the Celtics start making their shots, these lines are so low that the games should clear them comfortably. That will remain true as long as Boston refuses to double-team Jimmy Butler late in games, which is a recipe for fourth-quarter boosts. The Pick: Over 214.5
The likeliest regression candidate for Boston? Jaylen Brown, who is shooting a miserable 2-of-13 from 3-point range in this series and 17-of-44 overall. Generally speaking, though, if a player is putting up 22 shots per game, he’s probably going to find a ton of points through volume alone. Yet Brown has come in below his projected total in both Game 1 and Game 2. That changes if he starts making 3’s or if he starts getting to the line, which he’s done so only twice in each of the first two games of this series. The Pick: Brown Over 23.5 Points