NBA Picks, Best Bet: Expect the Celtics to claim control of the Eastern Finals vs. the heat; Take the bottom in the game 5

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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 provide daily picks throughout the post-season. Sam Quinn will pick at least one for each match between now and the NBA Finals. All lines are provided by Caesars Sportsbook.

Featured Games | Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics

Picking the Eastern Conference Finals matches is frustrating because it basically boils down to trying to assess the most important injuries knowing that at any time, we might find out that a player we previously expected is actually playing. My personal advice in this series is to not place any payment until the starting lineups are announced 30 minutes before the tip. I don’t have that luxury in this column, though, so here it goes: The absences in Game 4 were Marcus Smart and Tyler Hero. Boston played two playoff games with Smart being the only absent player, winning both games and only allowing 168 common points in those games. This is a small sample, but it makes sense. Derek White is not smart, but he is among the best defensive back-up guards in basketball. The Celtics are so deep defensively that they can get away with missing a single key. The Heat is so weak that they will struggle to generate points if Herro is hacked or knocked out. They scored only 82 points without him in Game 4. During the regular season, squads with Herro scored 116 points per 100 possessions, a very high number, while squads without him scored only 112 points, below the league average. Again, you have to hold off until close to game time, but since these are major injuries we know now, I was leaning towards Boston a little bit. Picks: Celtics-2

The same reasoning that guides Celtics’ selection suggests that the bottom line is to play on the score. Boston’s defense loses a lot less with a smart handicap than Miami’s attack loses a handicapped champion. The total in the game was only 4 184 points. This streak was a little heavier in attack earlier, but with injuries looking the way they were, I’ve learned to have a more prominent defense the rest of the way. Choice: under 204

Jimmy Butler wasn’t on Game 5’s injury report, a somewhat surprising development after he missed the second half of Game Three. He played in Game 4, but scored only six points. that happens. Sometimes players have bad games. But Butler didn’t seem to fit the naked eye. He didn’t get to the line even once and didn’t look like he had the usual blast. Boston challenged him by letting Robert Williams’ 3rd position defend him slightly. The implication was that the Celtics didn’t think Butler could be blown away by him in his hacked state, and that if he couldn’t, Williams’ size would keep him off shooting while Butler’s limited shooting range wouldn’t pull him away from a basketball. Butler is probably more correct in game 5, but the player we saw in game 4 was not able to score 25 points. Choice: Butler less than 24.5 points

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