NBA picks, best bets: 76ers have Joel Embiid-less game plan vs. Heat; Luka Doncic should get help in Suns-Mavs

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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 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 | Miami Heat vs. Philadelphia 76ers

The last time Philadelphia faced Miami, the team did so without either Joel Embiid or James Harden. It didn’t matter. The 76ers won because they identified and attacked Miami’s weakness: Tyler Herro. The 76ers scored 33 fourth-quarter points by attacking him relentlessly in pick-and-roll. Under normal circumstances, the Heat are deep enough to get by offensively against a weakened 76ers team without relying on Herro’s shotmaking, but we don’t know how healthy the Heat are right now either. If Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry are 100 percent? That changes the equation. But both missed first-round games, and Lowry is out for Game 1. The Heat should still win this game, but the 76ers still have enough firepower to keep it close, and if it gets to crunch time with Herro in the game, the 76ers have already proven they know how to attack him. The pick: 76ers +8

Featured Game | Phoenix Suns vs. Dallas Mavericks

Let’s just think about the logical matchup alignments in this series. Luka Doncic is perhaps the best perimeter shot-creator in the NBA. It stands to reason that Phoenix would want Mikal Bridges, its Defensive Player of the Year candidate, to guard him. Great. That solves Phoenix’s biggest problem. But what about Jalen Brunson? Can a still-injured Devin Booker stay in front of him? Can a 37-year-old Chris Paul? Paul’s defense has always been stellar, but the Pelicans had some success attacking him one-on-one in the first round. There’s no shame in losing a step in your late 30’s, and if Maxi Kleber is going to try to draw DeAndre Ayton out of the paint as he did Rudy Gobert, there is going to be an opportunity for Brunson to add another couple of big games to his impressive postseason ledger. The pick: Brunson over 19.5 points

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