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NBA picks, best bets for playoffs: Mavericks have Game 1 edge vs. Clippers, why Heat can keep it close

Elsewhere, expect the Pacers to hold firm against the Bucks

  • Apr 21 2024
  • 66
 NBA picks, best bets for playoffs: Mavericks have Game 1 edge vs. Clippers, why Heat can keep it close
NBA picks, best bets for playoffs: Mavericks have Game 1 edge vs. Clippers, why Heat can keep it close
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Now that the 2024 NBA postseason has begun, 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.

Miami Heat at Boston Celtics

This series has some of the most lopsided lines you'll ever see. The Celtics opened as -8000 favorites. Their sweep line of -110 implied better than a 50-50 chance at sending Miami home without a win. They might do that, but that doesn't mean the Heat will make this easy. The Heat are 9-3 in their last 12 Game 1s. That is despite starting eight of those series as the lower seed. Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra is going to come up with some weird wrinkle that stifles Boston for a quarter or two. The Celtics should win. I refuse to pick a blowout in a Spoelstra Game 1. The Pick: Heat +13.5

Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Clippers

This is a somewhat speculative pick. Given how closely the Clippers guard medical information, there's a chance we don't know if Kawhi Leonard is playing until minutes before tipoff. The mere chance to grab the Mavericks at close to a pick 'em if Leonard doesn't play is valuable, but even if Leonard does suit up, remember, Dallas took three of the four games in Los Angeles the last time these two teams played in the postseason. It's also fair to wonder how Leonard will handle any rust or pain in this one. Leonard has returned from missing a game or games just three times this season, but in those games, he never topped 24 points and averaged less than 17. Mavericks at -1.5 is a reasonable bet even if the Clippers are at full strength. The chance that they aren't just makes them even more tempting. The Pick: Mavericks -1.5

Indiana Pacers at Milwaukee Bucks

The Pacers went 4-1 against the Bucks this season. Giannis Antetokounmpo played in all five of those games. This would be relevant against any opponent. It is especially important against the Pacers because Antetokounmpo had separate 54- and 62-point games against Indiana this season. Indiana's defense is designed to limit 3-point attempts at all costs, and the tradeoff to doing so is very limited rim-protection. Antetokounmpo punishes them for that. The rest of the Bucks? Not so much. The Pick: Pacers -1.5

New Orleans Pelicans at Oklahoma City Thunder

Oklahoma City has one weakness: rebounding. Here's my overarching prediction for Game 1: the Pelicans try to stifle Oklahoma City's offense by letting Jonas Valanciunas "guard" Josh Giddey, but really just hang around the rim and beat Chet Holmgren for rebounds. There are adjustments the Thunder can make to that, like starting Isaiah Joe in place of Giddey. That probably isn't a Game 1 adjustment. Expect Valanciunas to rack up the rebounds against a Thunder team that doesn't mind conceding them. The pick: Valanciunas over 8.5 rebounds


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