Best NBA playoff bets and spreads tonight: Celtics, Thunder, and Derrick White highlight top picks for Monday

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Entering the fourth week of the 2024 NBA Playoffs, the No. 1 seeds in the Eastern and Western Conferences sit in polar-opposite positions.

The Celtics, who started the postseason with the best record in the league, have a 2-1 series lead over the Cavaliers in Cleveland. The Thunder, the youngest one-seed in the history of the NBA Playoffs, are down 2-1 in Dallas.

As it has all season, health has played a part in both these series. Boston is missing Kristaps Porzingis, a blow that has been far less brutal since Cleveland is also without All-Star Jarrett Allen. Now the Cavs could be forced to play Game 4 without Donovan Mitchell (left calf), who has averaged 35.3 points over the past six games.

In Dallas, Luka Doncic’s ability to play through a knee injury has translated to the Mavericks’ ability to steal home-court advantage. The MVP candidate has averaged 25.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and 2.5 steals per game over the past two Ws. He hasn’t played fewer than 39 minutes in a game all postseason. 

Updated championship odds, best bets:  NBA Finals | Eastern Conference | Western Conference

Still, nothing is cut-and-dry in the playoffs — anything can happen. Bettors must do their due diligence with stat and betting trend analysis before locking in wagers. Just like the teams competing, one miscalculation or overlooked detail could change a bettor’s fate and start the week off on a sour note. 

That’s where the Sporting News betting team comes in. Let us do the research and assess the value of the Monday evening BetMGM offerings for you! Here’s the best bets on the moneyline, against the spread, and on the over/under and player prop market for tonight’s doubleheader. 

Best NBA playoff odds and picks: Top ATS bet

Celtics -8.5 vs. Cavaliers (-110)

Jaylen Brown and the Celtics got their seemingly-scheduled wake-up call of the series in Game 2 in Boston, just like they lost to Miami in Game 2 of Round 1. In those two losses, the No. 1 seed got outscored by an average of 115-98. In the Celts’ six postseason wins, they have outscored opponents by an average of 110-89. 

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Jarrett Allen remains out in Game 4, and Donovan Mitchell (calf strain) will either be out or banged up. Boston smells blood in the water, knowing full well it can go back to TD Garden with a chance to close out this series in another gentlemen’s-sweep fashion. That will give Kristaps Porzingis more time to heal, and give the Celtics another chance to rest up while the Knicks and Pacers continue to exchange blows for the opportunity to play them. 

What has it taken to beat the Celtics during the 2024 NBA Playoffs? A whopping 23 three-pointers from Miami in the opening round, and an incredible 54.7-percent shooting from Cleveland this series. That’s Boston’s only two Ls of the postseason. The Cavs can’t possibly shoot that well in Game 4, especially with Mitchell hurting. Take the value here and bet the clearly superior team to cover.

FINAL SCORE PREDICTION: Celtics 109, Cavaliers 98 — Boston wins (-375) and covers the -8.5 spread (-110), and the final score finishes OVER the projected total of 205.5 (-105). 

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Best NBA playoff odds and picks: Top moneyline pick 

Thunder (-105) at Mavericks

As great as Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving have been for Dallas, the Thunder have really shot themselves in the foot with their defense (or lack thereof) on P.J. Washington. The Mavs’ trade-deadline acquisition has fully broken out as Jason Kidd’s third scorer, pouring in 56 combined points across Dallas’s Game 2 and 3 Ws.

Every time OKC sags off Washington to help with Luka and Kyrie, Washington burns the Thunder. He has shot a blistering 12-of-23 from 3-point range over the past two games, and he’s 18-of-34 from deep dating back to the Mavs’ Game 6 win over the Clippers. He’s outplaying MVP candidate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

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It’s time for OKC Coach of the Year winner Mark Daigneault to validate his award. The Thunder need to make Luka beat them from outside, where he has struggled mightily all postseason. He’s shooting 26.4 from 3 in the playoffs, and he has hit just 11 of his past 47 attempts since the knee sprain popped up on the injury report in Game 5 of the first round.

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If the Thunder stop letting Washington beat them with wide-open shots, they can regain momentum in this series and go back to Oklahoma City tied 2-2. If OKC also crashes the boards and stops letting Dallas win hustle points, the West’s top seed should cruise.

Doncic, Irving, and Washington combined for 70.3-percent of the Mavs’ points in Game 3, and Dallas won by just four. No other Maverick finished with over eight points. Expect OKC to treat Washington as Dallas’s third-best player and extinguish his flame on Monday night. 

FINAL SCORE PREDICTION: Thunder 107, Mavericks 102 — OKC wins (-105) and covers the -1.5 spread (-115), while the final score goes UNDER the projected total of 213.5 (-115).

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Best NBA playoff odds and picks: Top over/under bet

Mavericks UNDER 28.5 (1Q) vs. Thunder (-155)

With the Thunder’s season on the line, don’t expect them to let Dallas get out to another roaring start. Dallas has scored 62 first-quarter points over its past two victories, a far cry from the 23 points the Mavs put up in the first frame of Game 1. OKC needs to punch Jason Kidd’s squad in the mouth on Monday to have any chance of winning this game and series. 

While their 2-1 series deficit suggests otherwise, the Thunder have made it abundantly clear that they can still control long stretches of games. They held Dallas to an average of 18 points in the fourth quarter of Games 1 and 2, and limited the Mavs to 23 in the final frame of Game 3. Mark Daigneault’s guys just need to start tonight’s game with the same defensive intensity it has demonstrated at the end of the past three contests.

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Slowing down the aforementioned Washington, crashing the boards with more tenacity, and making Luka take more threes will all go a long way to OKC keeping Dallas under this first-quarter total for the third time in four games. 

FIRST QUARTER PREDICTION: Thunder 26, Mavericks 23 — OKC wins the first quarter (-105), covers the +0.5 spread (-115), and keeps Dallas UDNER 28.5 points (-155) while the total for the quarter goes UNDER 54.5 (-110).

Best NBA playoff odds and picks: Top player prop bet

Derrick White points: UNDER 15.5 (-105

The Cavaliers have made it a point to limit White’s opportunities and not let him get cooking from 3-point land, a strategy that paid dividends in Cleveland’s Game 2 upset in Boston. Expect this strategy to continue, as the Cavs know how crucial a role White plays in this Celtics offense.

After scoring 88 points over his previous three playoff games, DWhite has scored just 22 combined points on 7-of-24 shooting over his past two. That’s not to say he hasn’t still made an impact, though. He remains Boston’s top playmaker, and his perimeter defense and shot-contesting skills have shined throughout the postseason.

Just like when opponents spend a great deal of energy to neutralize Jayson Tatum, Boston will continue letting other players step up while Cleveland jumps through hoops to not let DWhite go off. Bet the Celtics guard to stay below 16 points for the third consecutive game, rewarding player prop investors with a nice -105 win to start the week. 

NBA playoff bets and spreads tonight: Full odds board

All odds courtesy of BetMGM, an authorized gaming operator of the NBA.

Game Time Moneyline Spread O/U
Celtics @
Cavaliers
7:00 BOS -375;
CLE +290
BOS -8.5
(-110)
205.5
Thunder @
Mavericks
9:30 DAL -115;
OKC -105
DAL -1.5
(-105)
213.5

NBA Playoffs updated bracket

NBA Playoffs bracket 2024

(TSN Illustration)

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