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.
Game 1 turned out to provide a pretty clear picture of where these teams sit in terms of quality. Neither team shot well from deep, with Miami regressing to 33.3% on 3-pointers and Denver doing even worse at 29.6%. Miami's regression was expected after a scorching round against Boston. Denver's shooting tends to be quite good, though on low-volume, meaning they aren't as dependent on variance. The Bucks and Celtics, on the other hand, both ranked in the top four in the NBA in 3-point attempts. When they have bad shooting luck, they lose. When the Nuggets do? They win by 10 instead of 25. The Pick: Nuggets -8.5
Aside from a bit of positive shooting regression, we should also expect a few more points for Miami in Game 2 at the line. The Heat attempted at only two free throws in Game 1, and the two teams combined to take roughly 33 fewer free throws than their regular-season average. Couple those realities with a relatively meager point total, and this game should be a bit more offensively focused than Game 1 was. The Pick: Over 216
The books have sadly taken down some of the props on Miami's role players (I was prepared to bet the under on Caleb Martin's scoring into oblivion), but we'll persevere with Denver's. Aaron Gordon scored 12 points in the first quarter of Game 1 largely through lazy switches and valuable crossmatches against Miami's smaller defenders. There isn't much the Heat can do about this considering how small their rotation is, there's not much they can do to change that without playing bigger players. Kevin Love didn't even appear in Game 1. Working further in Gordon's favor: Miami had some success playing a zone-defense in Game 1. That won't last, as the Nuggets were the best zone offense in the NBA this season, and Gordon, as their best cutter, will be the beneficiary with easy looks near the rim. The Pick: Gordon Over 13.5 Points
As a general principle, I loathe triple-double props. That's especially true on the rare occasion in which the "yes" option is minus-money. But the way the Heat play is perfectly suited for Nikola Jokic to rack up triple-doubles (minus-137). If they're going to keep trying to play zone, he's going to hit 10 assists. They're so small that rebounds are inevitable. I'm not even going to pretend that there's a reason why he wouldn't score 10 points. Jokic has triple-doubles in six of his last seven games. Expect him to make it seven of eight on Sunday. The Pick: Jokic posts a triple-double
Jimmy Butler is attempting 3.4 3-pointers per game this postseason, but the number skews toward the later parts of series. He tried 10 in Game 5 against the Bucks and seven in Game 7 against the Celtics. He took 12 combined in the last two games of the 2022 Eastern Conference finals, and he closed out the 76ers with six tries in Game 6 of the prior round. But early in the series? He tends to focus on getting to the rim. He's tried just nine total 3-pointers in the four Game 1's he's played in this postseason, for instance, and he took just one in Game 2 against Boston. With the Heat failing to get to the line more than once in Game 1, Butler is going to emphasize driving in Game 2, so expect him to save his jumpers for later in the series, when the Nuggets have adjusted to interior game. The Pick: Butler Under 0.5 3-Pointers