September 30, 2022

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NBA picks: Best bets for Friday’s play-in games, including Hawks’ Trae Young set for big night vs. Cavaliers

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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 | Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Atlanta Hawks

The Cavs, after losing to Brooklyn in their first play-in game, are now down to 2-11 in their last 13 games if you exclude their beatdown of Milwaukee’s backups on Sunday. If Jarrett Allen were 100 percent, his presence would change things drastically, but if he’s compromised or has to sit out, this is just a horrible matchup for Cleveland.

The worst thing a defense can do against Trae Young is give him bigs to pick on in space. He’s going to pull Kevin Love and Lauri Markkanen into as many pick-and-rolls as possible. Darius Garland is going to target Young in the same way defensively, but he’s just not as advanced a switch-hunter yet. He’s a solvable problem. Young, as he proved against the Hornets, really isn’t. Trap and he passes you to death. Switch and he isolates your worst defenders. Drop and he’ll hit floater after floater. The healthy Cavs were so stout defensively that they might have been able to weather the storm. Right now? Young is positioned for a big, big night. He scored 30, 35 and 41 points in his last three meetings with the Cavs. Why should Friday be any different? The pick: Hawks -2

Featured Game | Los Angeles Clippers vs. New Orleans Pelicans

Fun fact: All four of Tuesday and Wednesday’s play-in games went under their projected point total (though LaMelo Ball very nearly changed that with a meaningless last-second bucket Wednesday). That seems to have made the books a bit skittish, but this line is still pretty aggressive in favor of the defenses. The Clippers are stellar on that end of the floor and probably deserve this sort of respect. The Pelicans? You have to really believe in Jose Alvarado and Herb Jones to buy this total.

The Clippers had a fairly simple solution to their big Game 1 schematic problem. They knew that doubling Karl-Anthony Towns would work because he’s not a particularly strong passer. Ironically, their plan almost worked too well. It got him off the floor and turned the game into the Anthony Edwards show, whom they are less well-equipped to guard. Well, the Pelicans have CJ McCollum. He’s not the same sort of guard mind you, but he presents similar difficulties. As for the Clippers? They are far more comfortable as a jump-shooting team playing against the more conventional Pelicans defensively than the ultra-aggressive Timberwolves. They should have space to get their shots off and score plenty of points in this one. The pick: Over 215.5