Now that we are in the heat of battle NBA playoffs, the basketball betting market is hotter than ever. CBS Sports will make daily picks during the postseason. Sam Quinn will make at least one pick for every game between now and the NBA Final. All rules courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.
Recommended game | Cleveland Cavaliers vs New York Knicks
Of course, home field advantage is huge in the postseason, and the Cavaliers are just a few Game 1 rebounds away from tying this series instead of trailing 3-1. But nothing they’ve done in the past four games suggests that this series is evenly matched. Cleveland scores a pathetic 85 points per 100 plays on half court, and while the Knicks were a little worse, they at least made up for it by pulling in 38.1% of all available offensive rebounds. Cleveland doesn’t give itself a second chance. It found a successful trick, a little pick and roll with Caris LeVert targeting Jalen Brunson, and she won Game 2.
Otherwise? This series was all Knicks, and without the depth to adapt properly, the Cavaliers are probably out of luck. Even if the Knicks don’t close out this series on Wednesday, this game will be close. Cleveland isn’t good enough to blow out New York. The pick: Knicks +5.5
Recommended game | Memphis Grizzlies v Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers like to play with their food before eating it. Thus they lost Game 2 of this series with Ja Morant out. For example, they lost to the Houston Rockets at the end of the regular season and almost lost to the Utah Jazz. They go jogging through this game thinking they have the series in their bag because that’s what they do when they get too comfortable. That won’t fly against a 35-6 home team. The Lakers are favored in this series, but don’t expect them to make it easy on themselves. The choice: grizzly bears -4
Recommended game | Milwaukee Bucks v Miami Heat
I’m going to take an unconventional approach here and avoid making a game choice. Instead, I’m using this space to advocate for a series bet on Milwaukee. The odds are, frankly, terrible. With plus-110 odds, Vegas believes Milwaukee has won about 47.7% of its three consecutive playoff games. Given the uncertainty surrounding Giannis Antetokounmpo’s health and the general game-to-game volatility of modern basketball, there’s a lot of risk involved in such a bet. And yet I still feel relatively comfortable taking the Bucks. This is why:
- The same Bucks core swept a similar but healthier version of this Heat team out of the 2021 playoffs. Four wins, no losses.
- Buoyed by nine- and 16-game winning streaks, Milwaukee actually spent 41 of the 82 games it played this season within winning streaks that lasted at least three games. That’s a 50% percentage, better than the 47.7% chance Vegas gives them.
- The Heat scores a playoff-best 120.9 points per 100 possessions in this series. In the regular season, they only scored 107.1 points per 100 possessions in minutes played without Tyler Herro. What feels more durable against the Bucks when they are healthy?
- Two of their wins came without Antetokounmpo on the floor. The other came with Jimmy Butler scoring 56 points. If you don’t believe Antetokounmpo will play in the next three matches? Stay out. But chances are Butler won’t score 56 again because he literally never did before Monday.
If you have a low risk appetite? Avoid this. Anything can happen in a single playoff game and the Bucks need to win three in a row. But ask yourself this: If any part of you felt like the Bucks were going to sweep the Heat before the series…why back away from it now, in a situation where a sweep is absolutely necessary? You just never get better odds on a championship contender who exits the first round while seemingly healthy. The choice: Bucks +110 (series choice)
Recommended game | Sacramento Kings vs Golden State Warriors
Yes, I know, gambling on the Road Warriors is suicide gambling this season. But until we’ve seen left-handed De’Aaron Fox shoot with a broken left index finger, we can’t pick the kings credibly. Sacramento has become too dependent on him in this series to move their attack elsewhere. Domantas Sabonis, Kevin Huerter, Harrison Barnes and Keegan Murray have all competed for part or all of this series. If Fox can’t be Fox, the Kings can’t beat the Warriors. It’s that simple. The choice: warriors -1.5