Celtics vs Mavs NBA Finals Picks: First Quarter Predictions and Odds for Game 3

Down 2-0 in the NBA Finals, the Mavericks have no choice but to bring the fight to the Celtics in Game 3. As our first-quarter bets suggest, that fight starts with one Kyrie Irving.

Douglas Farmer - Betting Analyst at Covers
Douglas Farmer • Betting Analyst
Jun 12, 2024 • 13:37 ET • 4 min read
Kyrie Irving Dallas Mavericks NBA
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

If the Dallas Mavericks are going to make these NBA Finals interesting, they cannot wait any longer. The Mavs need to challenge the Boston Celtics from the opening tip tonight. A 2-0 deficit is too hefty to let Game 3 start any other way.

First-quarter bets and Mavericks vs. Celtics predictions should be focused as such amid our free NBA picks before tip on Wednesday, June 12, at 8:30 ET.

Celtics vs Mavs first quarter predictions for Game 3

Desperation driving Dallas

What choice do the Dallas Mavericks have? Either defend homecourt without a doubt, or consider this series just about over.

Trends support Dallas here, too. Before this series, the Mavs had gone 10-7 against the spread in first quarters this postseason, while the Boston Celtics were 2-6 ATS in their last eight opening frames.

The two then split the first quarters over the last week. Boston’s dominant 37-20 start to the series was in no small part contingent on Kristaps Porzingis’ surprising health. Coming off the bench and scoring 11 points in 7:17 of action stunned both the Mavericks and viewers.

Dallas did not fall to that surge twice, winning Game 2’s first quarter despite eight more Porzingis points.

Boston is being cryptic with Porzingis injury updates heading into tonight. He may be ruled out entirely with his latest leg worry; he may play. If he does play, it's hard to envision Porzingis being full-go, and without him, the Celtics’ offense will be a touch less dynamic. That may not matter by the end of the game, but out of the gates, that loss of Boston scoring should loom large against Dallas’ desperation.

NBA Finals first quarter prop: Mavericks -1.5 (-108 at DraftKings)

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Time for Kyrie

Kyrie Irving has not yet delivered in these Finals, scoring just 12 and 16 points in the first two games. Worse yet, he's shooting 13-for-37 (35.1%) from the field and has not yet hit a 3-pointer despite taking eight of them.

He has, however, been aggressive in the pair of first quarters, taking five shots in each of them. Going 6-for-10 combined should encourage Irving to continue charging to the rim early.

And with Kristaps Porzingis slowed at best, Irving’s aggression should be that much more. Of his four first-quarter misses, three were blocked, including one by the towering Latvian.

It's time for Irving to take some of the workload off Luka Doncic’s shoulders, and doing so early will give Doncic a chance to close late, as he's best at. Irving has not balked at playing off the bounce out of the gates in this series. Tonight, more than ever, he needs to emphasize that, and any possible Porzingis worries should embolden Irving.

NBA Finals first quarter prop: Kyrie Irving Over 4.5 points (-142 at FanDuel)

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Opening tip value

Even if Porzingis is healthy enough to play, he will not start. Boston head coach Joe Mazzulla kept Al Horford in the starting lineup this series to both measure Porzingis’s minutes coming back from injury and to better match up Porzingis with Dallas’s highest offensive threat, rookie Dereck Lively II.

For all his veteran qualities, it's a simple fact of life that Horford struggles to win a jump ball against Daniel Gafford. The latter is an inch taller and 13 years younger. It's a simple fact of life.

In Game 1, Boston still got the first possession as no one recovered the jump ball cleanly. In Game 2, Dallas won it without worry.

Assume the Mavs will win the jump ball once more tonight — again, this is not an insult to Horford, just acknowledging reality and the correlating gambling edge. If Dallas has the first possession, Irving is more likely to take a shot than Luka Doncic is, doing so in one less game than Doncic despite playing 12 fewer games this season.

Yet, the Kyrie Irving odds are a full dollar more generous than Doncic’s. The value in him and the value in Dallas likely having the first possession make this a clear choice.

Kyrie Irving prop: First basket scorer (+600 at FanDuel)

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