Saturday, May 25, 2024

NBA picks, best bets for Cavaliers vs. Magic: Why Game 7 trend, home-court advantage could pay off Sunday

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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.

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Orlando Magic

If you take one piece of betting advice from my columns, it should be to bet Game 7 unders. The last 20 Game 7’s we’ve seen in NBA postseasons have averaged 196.55 total points. That’s higher than this Game 7 line, but remember, those games didn’t all feature a) two top-seven defenses and b) two below-average offenses. The average game in this series has produced 195.5 points, but when you factor in the typical Game 7 drop, I’m comfortable saying this should be a game played in the 80’s or perhaps low-90’s in terms of points. The Pick: Under 194.5

A number you’re going to hear a lot in the leadup to this game, and any other Game 7 this postseason, is that home teams win roughly 80% of them. That was true at one point in NBA history. It largely hasn’t been true lately. In those 20 Game 7’s we measured for point totals, the road team has won 11. In all of NBA history before 2018, road teams had only won 26 total Game 7’s. So broadly speaking, you shouldn’t live by the idea that home teams win all Game 7’s. Notably, though, the home team HAS won all six games of this series so far. The Magic were a notoriously poor road team this season, finishing with an 18-23 road record that ranked 19th among the 20 teams that reached the postseason (behind only the 15-26 Atlanta Hawks). Based on the way this series has gone, I just have a hard time imagining the young Magic rising to the occasion in their first ever Game 7. The slightly more experienced Cavaliers should have the edge. The Pick: Cavs -3.5

My favorite prop in every Game 7 is always going to be a rebounding over. It aligns with picking the under since I tend to expect a bunch of missed shots creating rebounding opportunities. I’ll typically take a player from the team I expect to win, but Cleveland’s entire front line is a mystery right now because of Jarrett Allen’s injury. Instead, I’ll lean on Franz Wagner, who is averaging seven rebounds per game in this series, and who, most importantly, I expect to play a ton of minutes in Game 7. He’s averaged a team-best 37.4 in this series, and coaches shorten their benches for Game 7’s. So I’m expecting a big game out of Wagner in more Game 7 minutes, and rebounds are my favorite stat given the number of misses I anticipate seeing. The Pick: Wagner Over 5.5 Rebounds

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