Celtics vs Mavericks: The Panel's Picks & Best Bets For The NBA Finals Game 1

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Celtics vs Mavericks: The Panel's Picks & Best Bets For The NBA Finals Game 1

Our Celtics vs. Mavericks Game 1 Picks

The Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks open their NBA Finals series on Thursday night (8:30 pm, ABC, ESPN+) in what promises to be a fascinating encounter.

Boston is a big favorite at -210 on the moneyline with sports betting sites  to win its 18th NBA championship and first since 2008.

The Celtics eliminated Miami and Cleveland in five games before sweeping the Indiana Pacers. This was after a regular season that saw them win 64 games while ranking atop or near the top of several major categories.

Dallas had the tougher road in this NBA postseason. The Mavericks were the fifth seed in the Western Conference but defeated the Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Minnesota Timberwolves.  

Jason Kidd’s team is a large underdog at +205 versus a Boston team determined to win their first title in 16 years and The Panel has poured over the stats ahead of Game 1 to produce these three betting predictions.

Celtics Know How To Win 

Boston and Joe Mazzula needed to crawl before entering the NBA Playoffs, but the Celtics are now running. 

As we mentioned, the Celtics have only lost two games all postseason and are -210 with sportsbooks to bring the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy home.

The Celtics are -230 favorite on the Moneyline for Game 1 with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown among the most formidable duos in the league according to NBA betting experts. 

The Celtics have stayed mostly healthy, and their starting five is a big reason for this. Even at their worst, Boston finds ways to win. Just ask Indiana, who lost the final two games of their series by a combined six points. 

With their 64 regular-season wins, Boston enjoys home-court advantage once more versus Dallas, which is expected to be a huge boost. 

Since both teams enjoyed a longer layoff, the quality of basketball should improve as Game 1 goes on, favoring Boston in this tilt.

Clearly, Tatum and Brown want to make their second trip to the NBA Finals more memorable than the first. Boston lost in 2022 to the Golden State Warriors in six games. 

Boston A Different Beast At Home

Many believed that the Celtics were the predestined team to emerge from the East, and their 12-2 record through the first three rounds cemented that assertion. However, one slight wrinkle creates a little uncertainty.

Bookmakers are enamored with Boston even if the public yearns for Dallas. Boston also gets the return of Latvian center Kristaps Porzingis. However, will he be 100%? .

The other question is the 6.5 point spread. Home teams have fared well with any spread at 3.5 or more lately. A 58% connect rate against the spread since 2003 (43-31-3).

With Kyrie Irving (former Celtic) and Luka Doncic, dismissing the Dallas Mavericks here is not easy. The duo has been incredible and was one or two plays from sweeping the Minnesota Timberwolves in the last round.

However, Boston keeps coming up with ways to win and they do play at a different pace at home, where their net rating (+11.6) ranks tops in the NBA.

The Panel believes Game 1 will be close, but one in which Boston should pull away in the final quarter. 

The Panel Pick 1: Boston Celtics To Cover 6.5 Point Spread @ -110 With DraftKings  

Shooters Expected To Be Hot

This will be a challenge given how well both teams are rested. However, that time off could be key.

Boston loves to play faster at home. Games often play at a different pace and they did average 120.6 points per game this season overall.  

With the Celtics and Mavericks featuring their duos on the grandest stage, expect quite a duel between the two teams. 

The big thing for Boston is Tatum, who was not healthy in 2022 against Golden State. This time, he wants to make amends for what happened late in that series. Expect the offense to flow with him and Brown.   

Regarding pace, the expectation is that the shooters could get hot. Boston’s last two home openers in the playoffs went over the 214.5 point mark, and the Celtics scored 114 or more points in all three Game 1s. 

The Panel Pick 2: Boston And Dallas Over 214.5 Points @ -110 With FanDuel

Tatum On The Rebound After Recent Disappointments

Game 1 may feel like coming out of a year-long rest for Jayson Tatum and he cannot wait for this series to start and go up against the Doncic and Irving pairing.  

While most will be looking at point prop totals, assists, and such, why not look toward the rebound side of the equation? 

Tatum often leads the Boston Celtics in rebounds. He did in Game 4 against Indiana with 13. During the regular season, the forward led the team, averaging 8.1 rebounds a contest. 

Since the playoffs have started, that number has only gone up. Tatum now averages 10.4 rebounds per game. 

Last year, he hauled down 10.5 a night. Tatum has played a bit more aggressively as his average fouls have ticked up to 3.1 in these playoffs.    

Given Tatum’s penchant to atone for 2022 and 2023, look for the rebound props here to get the best numbers. 

Double digits is a solid bet and 11+ at +125 with BetMGM is reasonable too.

The Panel Pick 3: Jayson Tatum Over 9.5 Rebounds @ -125 With BetMGM 

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