Celtics vs. Mavs prediction: Odds, betting advice, player prop bets for Game 1 on Thursday, June 6

Included in this betting preview:

Hoops fans, it has finally arrived: the NBA Finals between the Celtics and Mavericks tip off Thursday night (8:30 p.m. ET, ABC, Sling). Boston opens the series as a -225 favorite to win it all and a 6.5-point favorite to win Game 1, but savvy bettors will be fading both those bets and opting instead for higher-value wagers and player props.

While this may not be the Finals matchup NBA fans expected two months ago, it’s impossible to argue against the Celts and Mavs being the best two teams of the postseason. The superstar duos of Jayson Tatum-Jaylen Brown and Luka Doncic-Kyrie Irving have been complemented perfectly by their supporting casts, and this should be the most entertaining series of the playoffs.

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These are exciting times for fans and bettors alike — especially after such a lengthy break between the conference championships and the NBA Finals — but bettors must avoid firing off bets without researching stat and betting trends. It’s the casuals who blindly bet the favorite on the spread and smash the OVER who get hurt early in the Finals, while the sharps (and the sportsbooks) laugh all the way to the bank. 

Let’s get to the best bets and top props for Game 1 of the 2024 NBA Finals between the Celtics and Mavericks, including the best spread, over/under, and player prop wagers from BetMGM.

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Celtics -2.5 (1Q) vs. Mavericks (-105)

Dallas has arguably exerted much more energy than Boston so far this postseason, and the Celtics have enjoyed a decent rest advantage over their Finals foes. Boston will also have the energy boost that comes with a championship-round opener at TD Garden, one of the more raucous arenas in sports.

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Oh, and starting center Kristaps Porzingis is back from his month-long absence due to a heel injury — so the starting five and the Al Horford-led bench should both get a bump in offensive production. That’s fantastic news for a Celtics team that has already sat atop the NBA in first-quarter scoring (31.4) since the start of the 2023-24 season. 

Dallas smashed Minnesota in the mouth in the first quarter of the series-clinching Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. But before that game, the Mavs had been outscored by the Wolves in the first frame by a collective score of 120-106. That’s a +14 first-quarter scoring margin and an average plus-minus of +3.5. 

Boston turns up at this time of year. But the Green-teamers have been pretty solid all season, helping their squad go 37-4 in the regular season and 7-2 in the playoffs. With public enemy No. 1 Kyrie Irving coming back to face the fans he once pledged his allegiance to — only to leave and return with sage and logo foot-stomps — the tension will be palpable in this one and the passion should transmit to the players. Bet the Celtics to cover the 2.5-point first-quarter spread.

FIRST QUARTER PREDICTION: Celtics 29, Mavs 25 — Boston wins the first quarter (-185) and covers the -2.5 spread (-105), and the frame finishes UNDER the projected total of 55.5 (-110).

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Celtics vs. Mavs total: UNDER 216.5 (-130)

People love betting the OVER, especially in the playoffs and Finals. It’s more fun to root for points than it is to root for defensive stops, so sportsbooks tend to bump the projected totals up for Game 1 because they can always get away with it. As of Wednesday, a whopping 90 percent of BetMGM Game 1 over/under bettors had put their money on the OVER of 214.5.

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Don’t follow the sheep, people. The Celtics have been one of the best defenses in the Association the entire season, and the Mavs turned into an elite defensive unit once they acquired Daniel Gafford and P.J. Washington at the deadline — and Derrick Jones Jr. turned into Superman. Sure, these squads also have premier scorers — but they also probably have some rust to kick off after many days of rest leading up to this game (never mind the nerves associated with the Finals).

If you’re a little nervous about betting the UNDER, utilize the value opportunity and bet the UNDER on the alternate total of 216.5. That way, you buy an extra two points and still get in at just -130, which is very little juice considering the number you’re getting. 

The Celtics have held opponents to 102 points or fewer in nine of their 14 games this postseason. The Mavs held opponents to 103 or fewer in eight of their 17. Act on the UNDER now, because this might be the highest the over/under projection will be the entire championship series. 

FINAL SCORE PREDICTION: Celtics 108, Mavs 103 — Boston wins (-250) but Dallas covers the +6.5 spread (-105), and the game finishes UNDER the alternate projected total of 216.5 points (-130).

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Derrick White three-pointers: OVER 2.5 (-135)

One of the most underrated scorers and impact players on the Celtics, Derrick White has consistently come through in big moments for Boston. He hit what ultimately ended up being the game-winner of the fourth and final game of the Celtics-Pacers Eastern Conference Finals, and he should be a huge part of Game 1 if Dallas tries to blitz Tatum and Brown.

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Joe Mazzulla’s squad also benefits from having Porzingis back, meaning the floor will be spaced that much better for Boston’s perimeter shooters. White has already hit three-plus three-pointers in eight of the Celts’ 14 postseason games so far, and he’s averaging 3.4 per game in the 2024 NBA Playoffs. He should easily knock down three triples, and maybe he’ll even get interviewed on the sideline to make up for being snubbed after the ECF closeout. 

Other solid player prop bets:

  • Luka Doncic OVER 31.5 points (-175)
  • Daniel Gafford OVER 1.5 blocks (+130)
  • Jayson Tatum OVER 2.5 turnovers (-125)

NBA Finals Game 1 odds board

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

Game Time Moneyline Spread O/U
Mavs @
8:30 pm
BOS -250;
DAL +200
BOS -6.5

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