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NBA picks, best bets for Lakers-Wolves and Heat-Hawks: LeBron, L.A. get it done; grind-it-out game in Miami

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With the 2022-23 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.

Featured Game | Los Angeles Lakers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

This line has already seen a bit of movement, opening at Lakers -6.5, but that influx of Lakers money is warranted. Let’s take a look at who these teams have been since the Lakers’ deadline acquisitions debuted on Feb. 11:

  • The Lakers are 18-8, giving them the third-best record in the NBA in that time. The Wolves went 12-11.
  • The Lakers outscored their opponents by 127 points in those games. The Timberwolves were outscored by 25 points in that time.
  • The Lakers ranked higher in offensive rating, defensive rating and clutch net rating in that window.

You might point out that the Timberwolves were missing Karl-Anthony Towns for much of that time, but the Lakers were without LeBron James as well. These are simply two teams that were already moving in different directions even before Sunday. And then Rudy Gobert got suspended and Jaden McDaniels broke his hand.

The severity of those absences cannot be overstated. McDaniels would have guarded James in this matchup and Gobert would have guarded Anthony Davis. Gobert’s primary backup, Naz Reid, is out with an injury. Minnesota is impossibly thin in general with all three out, but against a Lakers offense that gets to the basket as much as any other team in the NBA, they’re going to be exposed right from the opening tip. Don’t overthink this one. The market is pushing the Lakers for a reason. The pick: Lakers -8.5

Featured Game | Miami Heat vs. Atlanta Hawks

Let’s take a look at Trae Young’s recent history against the Heat. During the season, he averaged 19.8 points on 35.6% shooting against Miami. He was even worse in the playoffs last season, putting up 15.4 points on 31.9% shooting. As Young goes, the Hawks go. For his career, the Hawks are 33-68 in games in which Young fails to score 20 points. They are 13-33 when he is held below 15.

But it’s not as though the Heat are equipped to score on Atlanta’s weak defense either. The Heat have the NBA’s 25th-ranked offense this season, and as we saw last season, their playoff offense relies heavily on generating turnovers. The Hawks commit the third-fewest turnovers in the NBA. This is going to be a slow, grind-it-out postseason game, but the books are still pricing it like a regular-season contest. Take advantage before the lines move. The pick: Under 228

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