Tuesday, May 24, 2022

NBA picks, best bets: It’s hard to beat the Celtics twice in a row; what’s the impact of Ja Morant’s injury?

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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.

Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks

Featured Game | Milwaukee Bucks vs. Boston Celtics

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The Celtics haven’t lost three out of four games in the calendar year of 2022. They’ve lost two games in a row only once since mid-January, and they played one of those games without Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford and Robert Williams II. Beating this version of the Celtics once is hard enough. Doing it twice is already incredible. Doing it a third time will be exceedingly difficult. Milwaukee needed to hold the Celtics to just 10 2-pointers in Game 1 to win in Boston, and they got an absolutely historic performance out of Giannis Antetokounmpo to win Game 3. Boston’s Game 2 was unsustainable in its own ways, but for the past four months or so, Boston has been the superior team here. With Khris Middleton out, I’m taking the points on Boston and riding the Eastern Conference’s best regular-season team. The pick: Celtics +1.5

Memphis Grizzlies at Golden State Warriors

Featured Game | Golden State Warriors vs. Memphis Grizzlies

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The Grizzlies went 20-5 without Ja Morant in the regular season, and while that might tempt you into taking the double-digit spread here, remember, they’ve also lost the 29 minutes Morant has sat in this series by 32 points. No, a more prudent play here is on the total. Defense powered that 20-5 regular-season record without Morant. Memphis was 5.9 points per 100 possessions better defensively without him than they were with him. In the playoffs, they’ve become totally reliant on him offensively, scoring 20.9 fewer points per 100 possessions when he goes to the bench. The total here is only one point lower than Game 3’s line, and the Warriors are coming off of the second greatest true shooting performance in NBA history on Saturday. The scoring should die down a bit on Monday. The pick: Under 224.5

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