With the 2022-23 NBA regular season now in the books, 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.
Everything about this game screams defense. Toronto is very familiar with DeMar DeRozan's playoff issues. For his career, his field goal percentage dips from 46.8% in the regular season to 41.8% in the playoffs. That is going to be especially problematic against Toronto, as the Raptors have more wing defenders to throw at him than any other team in the playoff field. DeRozan averaged just 14 points per game against the Raptors this season.
But Toronto's offense isn't much better. The Raptors rank 25th in the NBA in half-court points per play, according to Cleaning the Glass. Their offense relies on turnovers and transition. Those points aren't as freely available in the postseason, and the Bulls commit the seventh-fewest turnovers per game in the NBA. Combine that with Chicago's 24th offensive ranking for the season and the fact that the Bulls (first) and Raptors (sixth) have both been ranked among the NBA's best defenses since the trade deadline and you get a game that should have very little scoring. The pick: Under 214.5
The Thunder did everything in their power to fall out of the play-in race down the stretch. They played a 12-man rotation in key games. They lost to the Hornets and Pacers missing most of their best players. They nearly lost a game to Utah's reserves that would've handed the Mavericks control of their own destiny for the No. 10 seed. In short, Oklahoma City seems to have run out of gas.
The opposite could be said of the Pelicans. They're 10-5 in their past 15 games and have outscored their opponents by 8.3 points per 100 possessions in that span. Injuries nearly left them for dead earlier in the season, but right now, Brandon Ingram is playing some of the best basketball of his career. He averaged 28.6 points and 8.1 assists per game to lead the Pelicans into the play-in round.
But if there's a real edge to be had here, it's on the boards. The Thunder rank 28th in the NBA in defensive rebounding. The Pelicans rank ninth in the NBA in offensive rebounding. Jonas Valanciunas is a great offensive rebounder under normal circumstances. Against a team without a true center in its rotation? He's going to give the Pelicans enough second-chance points to win this one comfortably. The pick: Pelicans -5.5