NBA playoffs picks, best bets: Trae Young hits over in assists; Mikal Bridges to help fill Devin Booker void
With the 2021-22 NBA regular season now in the books and the playoffs under way, 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.
Trae Young’s assist numbers are down this series as he’s averaging just 5.5 assists per game, but a lot of that comes down to factors outside of his control. His teammates are just 22 of 76 from 3, for instance, and the injured John Collins is just starting to get his sea legs. Miami’s defense is so well suited to limiting Young as a scorer that his best bet in this series is going to be setting up teammates, and with role players traditionally performing better at home, Young should be primed to push his assist numbers back up to their typical levels. The pick: Young over 8.5 assists
OK … hear me out: Part of why Alex Caruso traditionally doesn’t score many points is that he doesn’t play many minutes. Well, he played 38 minutes in Game 2 as a key defender on Giannis Antetokounmpo. When you play 38 minutes, you tend to luck into a few points here and there just by being in the right place at the right time. What’s more enticing here is that Caruso attempted seven 3s in Game 2. The Bucks decided schematically that those were shots they were happy to surrender. Caruso probably won’t make three of them again, but if he’s taking seven or eight, he just has so many opportunities for points that this line is low. If you assume he comes up with a couple of buckets, this feels too low. The pick: Caruso over 7.5
The question you should be asking yourself before Game 3 of this series is who you trust on the Suns to scale up. Something like 30 points per game are gone with Devin Booker injured, and someone is going to have to fill that void. It will probably be Chris Paul in the fourth quarter … but the first three are up for grabs. The two obvious candidates here are Mikal Bridges, whom Booker himself has lauded as far more than a 3-and-D player, and Cam Johnson, who has flashed that upside all season. Johnson is probably a better value considering where his line is likely to fall, but most books still haven’t released those props yet. So grab Bridges if you’re impatient. The pick: Bridges over 16.5 points