With the 2021-22 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.
Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics
Boston Celtics +3.5
Miami made a statement with its Game 1 win, but to some extent, that was to be expected. Miami had five days of rest. The Celtics played two games between Miami’s series-clincher over Philly and Game 1. They were without Marcus Smart and Al Horford, and while Horford is likely to miss Game 2, Smart will probably play. The major advantage of having him is Payton Pritchard, a defensive liability, and Aaron Nesmith, so low on the totem pole that he’d played just seven postseason minutes before Tuesday, had to combine for 42 minutes in Game 1. Without Pritchard to hunt for extended periods, Jimmy Butler likely won’t be as effective, and with its point guard back, Boston’s offense should run a bit more smoothly as well. This line favors the Heat even more than Game 1’s did despite Boston getting Smart back and the rest disadvantaged evening out. Lean Boston on Thursday. The pick: Celtics +3.5
Miami scored 118 points in Game 1 of this series. Smart’s return will help, obviously, but some of that was also just a bit unsustainable. Is Jimmy Butler going to shoot 18 more free throws? Are the two teams going to combine for 66 attempts? Miami’s regular-season offense scored 113 points per 100 possessions. That number inflated slightly in the first two rounds because of poor opponents. In Game 1? They were up to 121.6. I have a hard time believing that’s an easily repeatable performance against the best defense they’ve seen all postseason that should be getting the Defensive Player of the Year back. The pick: Under 207.5
Jimmy Butler has followed his last two performances of 27 or more points with games in the 40s. Those two performances came against the underwhelming 76ers defense. Before that? He hadn’t scored 27 or more in back-to-back games since November. We saw this trend in the Orlando bubble as well. In games following 26-point or more outbursts, he averaged just 14.7 points per game. Butler has a history of putting up enormous scoring numbers when the Heat need him to. He just doesn’t have much of a history of doing it in consecutive games. Butler has a few more big games in him this series. Just don’t expect them to come consecutively. The pick: Butler under 26.5 points