NBA picks, best bets for playoffs: Heat will not go quietly, Mavericks clean up shooting woes vs. Clippers


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The 2024 NBA postseason is well underway, and the basketball betting market is hotter than ever. CBS Sports will provide 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.

When the overmatched Heat lost Game 5 of the Finals a year ago, they hung in until the end and ultimately fell by just five points. When they trailed the favored Celtics 3-2 in 2022, they stunned the world by winning Game 6 on the road and came one Jimmy Butler 3-pointer away from winning the series in Game 7. Erik Spoelstra teams do not fold in closeout games. Boston has spent the past half-decade making life harder on itself in these exact situations. It was only a year ago that the Celtics blew a home Game 5 to the Atlanta Hawks in the first round before ultimately sending them home in Game 6. Add in the Kristaps Porzingis injury and I’m expecting a competitive game. Boston should win. I don’t expect them to play the sort of nonsense-free basketball it takes to put the Heat away comfortably for 48 full minutes. The Pick: Heat +14

Clippers-Mavericks series tend to be defined by shooting variance. In 2021, for example, the Mavericks took a 2-0 lead on the road and the entire basketball world panicked about the Clippers. In one of my proudest gambling moments, I made a very public bet on the Clippers to win the series. Why? Because Dallas shot 57.7% on wide-open 3’s in those two games. I expected the Mavericks to regress because shooting like that is not remotely sustainable. I was right. Well now, the opposite has been true. The Mavericks lost Game 1 as favorites with Kawhi Leonard out. They shot 3-of-13 on wide-open 3’s. They lost Game 4 with Leonard again out. For the series, they’re at 30.2% and the Clippers are at 46%. In the regular season, the Mavericks ranked sixth in wide-open 3-pointer percentage while the Clippers ranked 22nd. I’m not saying that the way the Mavericks have shot in this series has been completely meaningless. They’re emphasizing defense in their lineup choices, and the Clippers are funneling shots to those defenders. But they’re due for positive regression. With Leonard out, they are the better team. I’m standing by that. The Pick: Mavericks -3





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