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.
The owners of the postseason's two lowest offensive ratings are both in this series. Cleveland, at 100.7 points per 100 possessions, is in last place, and New York, at 102.5, is next from the bottom. In such a small sample, we'd typically assume this has something to do with shooting variance. But the Cavs are making 37% of their wide-open 3's and the Knicks are making 35% of theirs. Both teams are in the middle of the postseason pack in terms of free throws. We're simply seeing two teams with very limited offensive flexibility face off against high-end postseason defenses. There's no reason to believe the scoring is magically just going to increase. The Pick: Under 206.5
The Kings and Warriors are the opposite of the Knicks and Cavaliers. This series is ripe for a scoring explosion. The Kings are making only 26.4% of their wide-open 3's, the lowest figure in the postseason, and the Warriors are making just 33.4% of theirs, which is the third-worst mark. In the regular season, the Warriors were the best wide-open 3-point shooting team in the NBA at 41.9% while the Kings ranked 12th at 39%. The 3's are going to start falling soon, and when they do, the scoring in this series will skyrocket. The Pick: Over 237
Trae Young scored 32 points in Game 3 of this series. It was the first time he reached at least 26 in the postseason since Game 3 of the 2021 Eastern Conference finals. Almost half of those points -- 15, to be precise -- came in the fourth quarter, with the Celtics playing drop-coverage. That gave Young access to his floater, which is probably his best shot. To some extent, this was motivated by Derrick White's foul trouble. That likely won't repeat itself, and even if it does, the Celtics have now had time to game-plan against that eventuality. Considering how well Dejounte Murray is playing, Young's volume stats just aren't a great bet right now. The Pick: Young under 25.5 points
Here is a sobering thought for Minnesota: in the 40 minutes Nikola Jokic has sat in this series, the Nuggets have outscored the Timberwolves by 19 points. That is nearly impossible by Denver's standards. Jokic sat for 1,628 minutes in the regular season, and Denver lost those minutes by 367 total points. The only reliable way to beat Denver is to blow the Nuggets out when Jokic rests, because with him on the floor in the regular season, the Nuggets outscored their opponents by 640 points. Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns have provided minimal resistance against Jokic, and the Timberwolves have no answer for these new Aaron Gordon at center lineups Michael Malone has used in this series. Get your brooms ready. Our second sweep of the postseason is coming. The Pick: Nuggets -3.5