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NBA Finals Game 1 Celtics

The NBA Finals begin Thursday evening in Golden State. The Warriors come in as favorites with home-court advantage for a potential Game 7. Below is an overview of the key betting lines ahead of Game 1. Odds are via DraftKings.

Betting Overview

Series Line: Warriors -150; Celtics +130

This line implies these teams are pretty even, though the Warriors get the slight edge due to home-court advantage for a potential Game 7. I'm leaning that way as well. Boston needing seven games to get through both Milwaukee – shorthanded without Middleton – and Miami – very injured – is concerning. Ultimately, I think Golden State's experience will win out. The importance of the Warriors' core having been to six NBA Finals is impossible to quantify with stats. That may end up showing up in the coaching battle more than anything, with Ime Udoka being a first-year head coach in a situation that doesn't get any more high leverage than this.

Shortest Series Correct Score: Warriors 4-3 (+310)


The books are predicting seven games in this series, which tracks with the overall series line. I don't particularly like betting on series correct score, however. You can probably get better value by betting game-by-game based on what you see. Plus, taking a wager like this makes you vulnerable to series-altering injuries. Honestly, I'd rather just bet the sweep at 12-to-1 just to get a better return.

Game 1 Line: Warriors -3.5 (-115); over/under 212.5

I'm surprised this line isn't more shaded towards Golden State, though there's only so much wiggle room when the series line has been set at -150. Boston has scrapped and clawed in two physical series that went seven games. Going up against a dynamic, unique Warriors team that's at home with fresh legs feels like a recipe for disaster. And while I anticipate more unders than overs in this series given that both teams are elite defensively, I wouldn't touch it in Game 1 due to the fresh vs. tired legs factor here, plus Game 1 adrenaline being a wild card. If I had to bet any sort of total, I'd look at the Warriors' team over before the Celtics have time to adjust to Golden State's style of offense.

Finals Props

Below are a few props that I like. There are an absurd amount on almost any sportsbook you look at, but these were the ones that stood out to me on DraftKings.

Tatum assists leader (+425)

I glanced over this prop at first, but after thinking about it some more and looking at the numbers, I view this as good value. Out of these two teams, the assist-per-game leaders are Draymond Green (6.3), Marcus Smart (6.2), Steph Curry (6.2) and Jayson Tatum (5.9). I think any of them could lead the series in assists, so taking the one with the longest odds (Tatum) feels like a strong choice. Plus, if you're Golden State, you want to turn Tatum into a passer. And Boston will presumably want to turn Draymond into a scorer. Whether those ideas actually work are a different question, but I'm willing to take the +425 on Tatum to lead the bunch.

Thompson 3s leader (+425)

The logic for this bet is essentially the same as the logic for Tatum assists leader. The best of the Finals players are Curry (3.8), Thompson (3.6) and Tatum (3.2), with Thompson having the longest odds of the trio. Thompson is as capable as anyone in the series to catch fire from three for one game, for two games, for seven games.

Either team to break the record for most threes made (25+) in a Finals game (+2000)

If the Warriors are in the NBA Finals, you should probably make this bet. Plus, the Celtics actually hit 25 threes in February of this season in a (non-overtime) game against the 76ers. During this season (regular season and playoffs), four non-overtime games have had 25+ made threes from a team, and teams have shot at least 50 threes in 19 games. The defensive intensity is obviously turned up during the Finals, but this record being broken sooner than later feels inevitable. I'll happily take the 20-to-1 line since I think that record is going to be broken within the next 20 years – probably much sooner.

GAME1

Warriors moneyline (-165) vs. Celtics

DraftKings, 2:29 PM CT

I'd be surprised if Golden State lost Game 1. They have the fresher legs and are at home, plus their offensive style is difficult to adjust to without actually playing it first. It's such a far cry from the woeful and uncreative offenses of Milwaukee and Miami, and Boston struggled with both of those. I expect Steve Kerr to have his team much more prepared for the opening of the series than Ime Udoka, as good as he's been.


Warriors -3.5 (-115) vs. Celtics

DraftKings Sportsbook, 1:15PM CT

Nothing flashy here for Game 1. While I'm expecting a close game and a strong effort from the Celtics, the level of competition rises in the Finals, and in a Game 1 at home, this is where the Warriors' pedigree shines through. Over the course of the series, an intangible like that will wear off, but I expect Golden State – which has a long history of winning Game 1s and is undefeated at home in these playoffs – to set the tone and jump out to a 1-0 series lead.

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