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.
Let's take the 10,000-foot view here: Denver has held Miami below 100 points twice, and while Denver's defense has improved considerably from where it was a few years ago, no one would mistake it for an elite unit. They're averaging 100 points exactly across their last seven games. They've shot 40% or better from 3-point range in nine playoff games. In those games, they've averaged just under 118 points per game. When they've been below 40%? They've averaged 104 points. Despite reaching the Finals, the Heat rank 13th out of the 16 playoff teams in 2-point field goal percentage this postseason. Put more simply: the Heat have one move. Their only path to victory is making a bunch of 3's. That's it. It might happen, but it would be irresponsible to bet on it happening when they shot 34.4% in the regular season. Eventually their shooting luck is going to run out. The Pick: Nuggets -3.5
The Heat may be overshooting expectations this postseason... but the Nuggets are undershooting during the Finals. They're at 32.9% in three games against Miami after making 37.9% in the regular season. Is Michael Porter Jr. really going to maintain his 3-of-19 shooting pace from deep in this series? How about Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at 2-of-9? There's shooting variance to be mined for favorable scoring performances in this series... it's just coming from the Nuggets, not the Heat. The line here has dropped so much the Nuggets should be able to reach it comfortably even if the Heat regress from deep. The Pick: Over 210.5
There's room for a bit of fear on the Porter front, not necessarily because he's shooting poorly, but because Nuggets coach Michael Malone has proven so comfortable pulling him when he struggles. Porter has played just 47 minutes in the past two games, but the 21 points he's scored in the three Finals games Denver has played thus far represent his lowest-scoring three-game stretch since his rookie season, when his role in the rotation was entirely different. History says Porter can't possibly play any worse than he has thus far in the Finals. The Pick: Porter Over 10.5 Points
I bet the under on Jimmy Butler points in Game 3 and missed... but the logic made sense. He scored 28 points to squeak past the line, but needed 24 shots to do it. He'd been held below 25 in five of his previous seven games, and it visually looks like he's still dealing with pain from the ankle injury he suffered against the Knicks. It's not in Butler's nature to force shots the way he did in Game 3. If we assume volume closer to where he was in Games 1 and 2, he probably isn't going to post enormous overall scoring numbers. The Pick: Butler Under 26.5 Points
Jamal Murray has 10 assists in all three games of the Finals, but before this series, he'd reached eight in just four of Denver's 15 games in the first three rounds. He averaged 6.2 assists per game in the regular season, and if Miami is going to blitz him in pick-and-roll as often as it did in Game 3, he's going to rack up plenty of secondary assists by passing into 4-on-3's, but he won't be credited with actual assists if his teammates simply find the open man off the mismatches he creates. The Pick: Murray Under 7.5 Assists