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NBA picks, best bets for Play-In Tournament: Expect 76ers, Heat to light it up as Bulls will handle Hawks

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. All game lines courtesy of SportsLine consensus unless otherwise specified.

Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers

Yes, you should be afraid of Jimmy Butler going “you chose Tobias Harris over me???” all over the 76ers again, but he really isn’t the most problematic matchup in this game. How does Miami plan to slow down Tyrese Maxey? The 76ers and Heat have played three teams since Valentine’s Day. Maxey scored 97 combined points in those matchups and was never held below 30. Philadelphia beat Miami on its home court less than two weeks ago, and before you start citing Miami’s postseason history, remember, the Heat lost their first play-in game to Atlanta last season before going on a Finals run. The 76ers are the better team, and they’ll prove it Wednesday. The Pick: 76ers -5

The 208-point total seems a tad low. Yes, the Heat had the NBA’s 21st-ranked offense this season, and yes, Terry Rozier will miss this game due to injury. Still, the favorable Maxey matchup should help the 76ers score plenty of points, and remember, even in a down period for offense and fouls, Joel Embiid has still managed to draw 49 free-throw attempts in the roughly 152 minutes he’s played since returning. That’s more or less in line with his season and career career averages. If Miami can’t stay in front of Maxey and Embiid is getting to the line, their best bet will be to lean into offense and try to win this game by outscoring Philadelphia. The Pick: Over 208

We’ve talked a lot about Philly’s favorable matchups here. How about Miami’s? Without De’Anthony Melton the 76ers don’t have an ideal solution to Tyler Herro, who will get extra shots with Rozier sidelined and Duncan Robinson nursing a back injury. Scoring has been an issue for Miami, and Butler will surely be the focus of Philly’s game plan, but that leaves room for a nice game out of Herro. The Pick: Herro Over 20.5 Points

Atlanta Hawks at Chicago Bulls

Atlanta was 14-14 without Trae Young this season… and 22-32 with him. Chicago is an especially pesky matchup for Atlanta because DeMar DeRozan and Coby White are both capable of hunting him in pick-and-roll, and on the other end of the floor, Alex Caruso is going to hound him all night. The healthy Hawks are here largely by default. Someone had to claim the No. 10 seed in the East, but the Dejounte Murray-centric version of the team that played largely acceptable defense and had a more diverse offense was undeniably the better version this season. Expect the Hawks to go out with a whimper as they head into an offseason filled with change. The Pick: Bulls -3

The Bulls played two play-in games last season. They averaged 208.5 points in total, which is a reflection of their style. The Bulls ranked 28th in pace this season, and while the Hawks ranked sixth, the postseason tends to favor teams that grind games to a halt. Chicago should be able to dictate pace in this matchup as it did in last year’s play-in games, and that means the final score should be relatively low. The Pick: Under 221.5

Young isn’t going to guard White or DeRozan. That means he’s almost certainly going to primarily match up against Caruso, a convenient assignment considering how often Caruso will be guarding him. Caruso has quietly made a career-high 40.8% of his 3-point attempts this season, averaging 1.9 made 3’s per game. Young is going to lose him on defense because, well, that’s what Young does, and Caruso made four 3’s on eight attempts in last year’s play-in loss to the Heat. He isn’t afraid to fire away. The Pick: Caruso Over 1.5 Made 3’s

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