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Jun 4, 2024 12:36 pm

NBA Finals props and picks: Get behind historic favorite Boston?

Luka Doncic

The Boston Celtics take on the surging, interesting, puzzling – and significant underdog – Dallas Mavericks as the NBA Finals begin Thursday night in Boston.

The Celtics are -220 favorites (FanDuel) and the third-heaviest Finals favorites since the ABA-NBA merger.

Taking the Mavericks at +184 (FanDuel) isn’t the worst bet, though, considering this Dallas team is nowhere near the season-opening version.

Find out where we land with each team after dissecting a couple of interesting betting stats.

The trend
For Game 1, the most identifiable trend has been the public’s infatuation with the Mavericks. Depending on the sportsbook, 70 percent or more of the money has landed on Dallas +6.5 points.

Moreover, according to Vegas Insider, at BetMGM, as of Monday the public was crushing the Dallas futures with 85 percent of the mobile/online bets and 80 percent of early dollars backing the Mavericks to win the Finals.

Boston has rolled through its Eastern Conference playoff schedule, going 12-2 straight up but only 7-7 against the spread.

The Mavs’ surprising run stands at 12-5 straight up and 11-6 against the spread.

This is a nice spot to “zag,” so we’ll grab the Celtics, fade the public, and eagerly watch a fourth-quarter rally to cover.

The bet: Celtics -6.5 in Game 1.

Mavericks closer look
You can have faith in the “Big Two” from Big D: Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving. These guys are eager for the fight, and especially given the perception by bookmakers worldwide.

Bets on the Mavs range from taking Dallas +2.5 games in the series (-250 at DraftKings) or +1.5 games (-134 at FanDuel) to individual performances, though Doncic at -205 (DraftKings) to score the most total points on either team during the series seems a bit too steep.

This Mavs team won 16 of their final 20 regular-season games and has looked terrific in the postseason. Still, it’s a tall task to take the title this quickly.

For a wager on the team, pushing the Celtics to seven games and falling short (Game 7 is in Boston) is priced juicier than a Boston 4-1 or 4-2 series win.

The bet: We kind of like that +450 (BetMGM) on the Mavs to lose in seven games.

Celtics closer look
Oh, the overthinkers have to be anxious as Game 1 approaches. The Celtics face a team that is only now reaching peak performance, so Boston is in for a struggle, right?

Not so fast.

The Celtics are a heavy favorite for good reason. They can put Jrue Holiday on Kyrie – or Luka! – and find some level of effectiveness. Big man Kristaps Porzingis is a great rim protector but also nimble enough to contest 3s when switches are needed.

Derrick White not hitting? No worries. Here’s Al Horford, or Jaylen Brown, or Jayson Tatum – or Porzingis to pick up the slack.

The Boston perspective shows a chance to find value in backing the favorites.

The bet: We especially like Tatum’s odds-on favoritism to take down the Finals MVP at -120 (FanDuel, BetMGM). With Tatum carrying such a high volume, this feels much better than just betting the Celtics at -220.

–Field Level Media

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