NBA Picks, Best Picks: Expect the Celtics to claim control of the Eastern Finals vs. Heat. Take Under in Game 5


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Now with the start of the 2021-22 NBA regular season, the basketball betting market is hotter than ever. CBS Sports will be offering daily picks during the postseason. Sam Quinn will have at least one pick for every game between now and the NBA Finals. All lines were powered by Caesar Sportsbook.

Recommended games | Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics

Choosing an Eastern Conference Finals match is disappointing as it essentially boils down to trying to evaluate which injury is more important. Because you can always find out that the player you previously expected to play isn’t actually sitting there. My personal advice on this series is not to place bets until the starting lineup is announced 30 minutes before the tip. I cannot afford to write this column. So here goes. The absences in Game 4 were Marcus Smart and Tyler Hero. Boston played two playoff games in which Smart was the only absent player, winning both games and conceding just 168 points in those games. It’s a small sample, but it makes sense. Derrick White may not be smart, but he is one of the best reserve defenders in basketball. The Celtics have such a deep defense that they can get out without a single key cog. Heat is so weak offensively that it will have a hard time generating points if Hero is damaged or out. They scored 82 points in Game 4 without him. During the regular season, the lineup with Herro was averaging 116 points per 100 possession, a very high figure, while the lineup without him only averaged 112 points, below the league average. Again, it will have to be put on hold until game time draws near, but this is the major injury we know right now, so it will tilt Boston a bit. Choice: Celtics -2

The same logic that guides our Celtics selection suggests that Under is a play for total runs. Boston’s defense loses far less with a hindered smart than Miami’s attack loses with a hindered hero. The total score in Game 4 was only 184 points. This series was a bit heavier on offense early on, but the way he’s swayed from injuries will learn to make the defense stand out for the rest of the game. Pick: Under 204

Jimmy Butler wasn’t listed on the Game 5 injury report, and he’s made quite a surprise after missing Game 3’s second half. He played in Game 4 but only scored 6 goals. That’s what happens. Sometimes players play bad games. But Butler was not physically right to the naked eye. He never got to the line and didn’t look like his typical burst. Boston challenged him by getting center Robert Williams III to defend him considerably. The implication is that the Celtics didn’t think Butler could blow him away from the brink, and if he couldn’t, Williams’ size would rob him of the post-up, while Butler’s limited shooting range wouldn’t take him far. It was. Basket. Perhaps Butler was healthier in Game 5, but the player I saw in Game 4 didn’t seem capable of scoring 25 points. Pick: Butler under 24.5 points

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